SCYON Abstract

Received on August 29 2013

The Main Sequence of three Red Supergiant Clusters

AuthorsDirk Froebrich and Alexander Scholz
AffiliationUniversity of Kent
University of St. Andrews
Accepted byMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society


Massive clusters in our Galaxy are an ideal testbed to investigate the properties and evolution of high mass stars. They provide statistically significant samples of massive stars of uniform ages. To accurately determine the intrinsic physical properties of these stars we need to establish the distances, ages and reddening of the clusters. One avenue to achieve this is the identification and characterisation of the main sequence members of red supergiant rich clusters. Here we utilise publicly available data from the UKIDSS galactic plane survey. We show that point spread function photometry in conjunction with standard photometric decontamination techniques allows us to identify the most likely main sequence members in the 10-20Myr old clusters RSGC1, 2, and 3. We confirm the previous detection of the main sequence in RSGC2 and provide the first main sequence detection in RSGC1 and RSGC3. There are in excess of 100 stars with more than 8Msun identified in each cluster. These main sequence members are concentrated towards the spectroscopically confirmed red supergiant stars. We utilise the J-K colours of the bright main sequence stars to determine the K-band extinction towards the clusters. The differential reddening is three times as large in the youngest cluster RSGC1 compared to the two older clusters RSGC2 and RSGC3. Spectroscopic follow up of the cluster main sequence stars should lead to more precise distance and age estimates for these clusters as well as the determination of the stellar mass function in these high mass environments.