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Session 7 - Molecular Clouds.
Display session, Wednesday, January 07
Exhibit Hall,

[7.03] Near-Infrared Imaging of Six Southern Hemisphere Star Forming Regions

H. Curry (U. Georgia, REU Prog. MIT Haystack Obs.), S. T. Megeath (Center for Astrophysics, MIT Haystack Obs.)

Since many, if not most, stars in our Galaxy form in dense clusters, an understanding of star formation in clusters is crucial for understanding the origin of our Galaxy's initial mass function. To expand the known sample of young clusters in which star formation is ongoing, we have undertaken a near--infrared/millimeter study of six southern hemisphere star forming regions. These six regions, G333, G351, NGC6334, RCW108, RCW117, and RCW122, are at heliocentric distances of 1.3 to 3 kpc and have total far infrared luminosities of 50,000 to 500,000 L_ødot. Millimeter maps of these regions show dense molecular cores with virial masses of 100 to 500 M_ødot. Our previous K--band imaging showed nebulosities in each of these regions and clusters of stars in five of these regions.

In this poster, we present near--infrared J, H, and K--band images of the six regions. We use these images to generate three-color images of the nebulosities and clusters and elucidate the relationship of the stellar populations with the parental molecular gas. These images reveal populations of deeply embedded objects as well as filamentary dust lanes which effectively obscure stars at wavelengths as long as 2.2 microns. We discuss an ongoing effort to study the young clusters and the overlying extinction through JHK-band photometry. This photometry will be used to search for emission from circumstellar disks, study the structure of the molecular gas around the cluster, and constrain the initial mass function of the clusters.

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Program listing for Wednesday