VdBH 222: a starburst cluster in the inner Milky Way

Marco, A.; Negueruela, I.; González-Fernández, C.; Maíz Apellániz, J.; Dorda, R. and Clark, J. S. (2014). VdBH 222: a starburst cluster in the inner Milky Way. Astronomy & Astrophysics, 567, article no. A73.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361/201423897


Context. It has been suggested that the compact open cluster VdBH 222 is a young massive distant object.

Aims. We set out to characterise VdBH 222 using a comprehensive set of multi-wavelength observations.

Methods.We obtained multi-band optical (UBVR) and near-infrared (JHKS) photometry of the cluster field, as well as multi-object and long-slit optical spectroscopy for a large sample of stars in the field. We applied classical photometric analysis, as well as more sophisticated methods using the CHORIZOS code, to determine the reddening to the cluster. We then plotted dereddened HR diagrams and determined cluster parameters via isochrone fitting.

Results. We have identified a large population of luminous supergiants confirmed as cluster members via radial velocity measurements. We find nine red supergiants (plus one other candidate) and two yellow supergiants. We also identify a large population of OB stars. Ten of them are bright enough to be blue supergiants. The cluster lies behind ≈7.5 mag of extinction for the preferred value of RV = 2.9. Isochrone fitting allows for a narrow range of ages between 12 and 16 Ma. The cluster radial velocity is compatible with distances of ~6 and ~10 kpc. The shorter distance is inconsistent with the age range and Galactic structure. The longer distance implies an age ≈ 12 Ma and a location not far from the position where some Galactic models place the far end of the Galactic bar.

Conclusions. VdBH 222 is a young massive cluster with a likely mass >20 000 M. Its population of massive evolved stars is comparable to that of large associations, such as Per OB1. Its location in the inner Galaxy, presumably close to the end of the Galactic bar, adds to the increasing evidence for vigorous star formation in the inner regions of the Milky Way.

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