NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2006B-0178

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Proposal Information for 2006B-0178


PI: John MacKenty, STScI, mackenty@stsci.edu
Address: INS, 3700 San Martin Drive, Baltimore, MD 21218, US

CoI: Don Figer, RIT
CoI: Paco Najarro, CSIC
CoI: Rolf Kudritzki, UH
CoI: Artemio Herrero, IAC

Title: IRMOS Spectroscopy of the Most Massive Stellar Clusters

Abstract: We are on the cusp of a revolution in massive star research triggered by 2MASS and Spitzer/GLIMPSE, and now is the ideal time to capitalize on these projects by performing the first survey of massive stars in young stellar clusters throughout the Galactic plane. A search of these surveys has produced over 500 newly identified massive stellar cluster candidates which are hidden from our view at optical wavelengths due to extinction. The bona fide clusters in this sample are likely massive, containing at least dozens of massive stars. Observations of just two candidates have revealed two massive clusters containing three and six times more red supergiants than any other previously known young clusters, indicating extremely massive star formation episodes. We propose a program to target the massive stars in these clusters using multiobject spectroscopy with IRMOS. We expect to substantially increase the numbers of known massive stars in the Galaxy. This program addresses fundamental questions: the slope and upper cutoff to the IMF, the formation/evolution of massive stars, the effects of massive stars on protostellar/protoplanetary systems, gamma-ray burst (GRB) progenitors, the first stars in the Universe, and chemical enrichment of the ISM. The proposed program is timely in that the young cluster targets have only recently been discovered and are going to be the subject of intense observations with many facilities, i.e. Spitzer and Chandra.


National Optical Astronomy Observatory, 950 North Cherry Avenue, P.O. Box 26732, Tucson, Arizona 85726, Phone: (520) 318-8000, Fax: (520) 318-8360



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