Super star clusters in Haro 11: Properties of a very young starburst and evidence for a near-infrared flux excess

Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (Impact Factor: 5.11). 05/2010; 407(2). DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2966.2010.16983.x
Source: arXiv


We have used multi-band imaging to investigate the nature of the extreme starburst environment in Haro 11 galaxy. The central starburst region has been observed in 8 HST wavebands and at 2.16 micron at the ESO-VLT. We constructed integrated spectral energy distributions (SEDs) for about 200 star clusters and compared them with single stellar population models in order to derive ages, masses and extinctions of thestar clusters. The present starburst has lasted for 40 Myr, and shows a peak of cluster formation only 3.5 Myr old. With such an extremely young cluster population, Haro 11 represents a unique opportunity to investigate the youngest phase of the cluster formation process and evolution in starburst systems. Extinction tends to diminish as function of the cluster age, but the spread is large and for clusters in partial embedded phases (< 5 Myr). A fraction of low-mass (> 10^4 Msun), very young (1-3 Myr) clusters is missing, either because they are embedded inthe parental molecular cloud and heavily extinguished, or because of blending. Almost half of the cluster sample is affected by flux excesses at wavelengths 8000 \AA which cannot be explained by simple stellar evolutionary models. Fitting SED models over all wavebands leads to systematic overestimates of cluster ages and incorrect masses for the stellar population supplying the light in these clusters. We show that the red excess affects also the HST F814W filter, which is typically used to constrain cluster physical properties. The clusters which show the red excess are younger than 40 Myr; we propose possible physical explanations for the phenomenon. Finally, we estimate that Haro 11 hasproduced bound clusters at a rate almost a factor of 10 higher than the massive and regular spirals, like the Milky Way. (Abriged) Comment: Accepted for publication in MNRAS. 23 pages, 23 figures

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