Progressive star formation in the young galactic super star cluster NGC 3603

Giacomo Beccari, Loredana Spezzi, Guido De Marchi, Francesco Paresce, Erick Young, Morten Andersen, Nino Panagia, Bruce Balick, Howard Bond, Daniela Calzetti, C. Marcella Carollo, Michael J. Disney, Michael A. Dopita, Jay A. Frogel, Donald N B Hall, Jon A. Holtzman, Randy A. Kimble, Patrick J. McCarthy, Robert W. O'Connell, Abhijit SahaJoseph I. Silk, John T. Trauger, Alistair R. Walker, Bradley C. Whitmore, Rogier Windhorst

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


Early Release Science observations of the cluster NGC 3603 with the WFC3 on the refurbished Hubble Space Telescope allow us to study its recent star formation history. Our analysis focuses on stars with Hαexcess emission, a robust indicator of their pre-main sequence (PMS) accreting status. The comparison with theoretical PMS isochrones shows that 2/3 of the objects with Hαexcess emission have ages from 1 to 10 Myr, with a median value of 3 Myr, while a surprising 1/3 of them are older than 10 Myr. The study of the spatial distribution of these PMS stars allows us to confirm their cluster membership and to statistically separate them from field stars. This result establishes unambiguously for the first time that star formation in and around the cluster has been ongoing for at least 10-20 Myr, at an apparently increasing rate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1108-1117
Number of pages10
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 10 2010


  • Open clusters and associations: individual (NGC 3603)
  • Stars: pre-main sequence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Progressive star formation in the young galactic super star cluster NGC 3603'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this