SCYON Abstract

Received on January 29 2007

Medium resolution 2.3µm spectroscopy of the massive Galactic open cluster Westerlund 1

AuthorsSabine Mengel and Lowell E. Tacconi-Garman
Accepted byAstronomy & Astrophysics
Links Westerlund 1


The Galactic open cluster Westerlund 1 was found only a few years ago to be much more massive than previously thought, with evidence suggesting its mass to be in excess of 105 M(sun), in the range spanned by young extragalactic star clusters. Unlike those clusters its proximity makes spatially resolved studies of its stellar population feasible. It is therefore an ideal template for a young, massive star cluster, permitting direct comparison of its properties with measurements of velocity dispersion and dynamical mass for spatially unresolved extragalactic clusters. To this end, we used the long slit near-infrared spectrograph VLT/ISAAC to observe the CO bandhead region near 2.29µm, scanning the slit across the cluster centre during the integration. Spatially collapsing the spectra along the slit results in a single co-added spectrum of the cluster, comparable to what one would obtain in the extragalactic cluster context. This spectrum was analysed the same way as the spectra of almost point-like extragalactic clusters, using red superiant cluster members as velocity templates. We detected four red supergiants which are included in the integrated spectrum, and our measured velocity dispersion is 5.8km/s. Together with the cluster size of 0.86pc, derived from archival near-infrared SOFI-NTT images, this yields a dynamical mass of 6.3*104 M(sun). While this value is not to be considered the final word, there is at least so far no sign for rapid expansion or collapse.