The NGC 5253 star cluster system - I. Standard modelling and infrared-excess sources

Richard de Grijs*, Peter Anders, Erik Zackrisson, Göran Östlin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

23 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Using high-resolution Hubble Space Telescope data, we re-examine the fundamental properties (ages, masses and extinction values) of the rich star cluster population in the dwarf starburst galaxy NGC 5253. The gain in resolution compared to previous studies is of order a factor of 2 in both spatial dimensions, while our accessible wavelength range transcends previous studies by incorporation of both near-ultraviolet and near-infrared (IR) passbands. We apply spectral synthesis treatments based on two different simple stellar population model suites to our set of medium-, broad-band and Ha images to gain an improved physical understanding of the IR-excess flux found for a subset of young clusters (30 of 149).With the caveat that our models are based on fully sampled stellar mass functions, the NGC 5253 cluster population is dominated by a significant number of relatively low-mass (Mcl < a few × 104M) objects with ages ranging from a few ×106 to a few ×107 yr, which is in excellent agreement with the starburst age of the host galaxy. The IR-excess clusters are almost all found in this young age range and have masses of up to a few ×104M. The IR excess in the relatively low-mass NGC 5253 clusters is most likely caused by a combination of stochastic sampling effects and colour variations due to the presence of either luminous red or pre-main-sequence stars. We also find a small number of intermediate-age (~1 Gyr old), ~105M clusters, as well as up to a dozen massive, ~10 Gyr old globular clusters. Their presence supports the notion that NGC 5253 is a very active galaxy that has undergone multiple episodes of star cluster formation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2917-2932
Number of pages16
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Volume431
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2013
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • methods: data analysis
  • stars: luminosity function
  • mass function
  • galaxies: starburst
  • galaxies: star clusters: general
  • infrared: galaxies

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