AAS 200th meeting, Albuquerque, NM, June 2002
Session 51. The New Radio Universe
Topical Session Oral, Wednesday, June 5, 2002, 8:30-10:00am, 10:45am-12:30pm, 2:30-4:00pm, 4:15-6:00pm, Ballroom C

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[51.12] Super Star Clusters and Starburst Galaxies

K.E. Johnson (NRAO/U.Wisconsin)

High resolution radio telescopes have revolutionized the study of star formation in starburst galaxies. For example, the superior resolution and sensitivity of the Very Large Array has enabled the recent discovery of a number of extragalactic star clusters which are still deeply enshrouded in their natal material. These clusters appear to have properties which are analogous to those of ultracompact HII regions in the Galaxy, albeit vastly scaled up. Furthermore, a continuum of young embedded clusters have been found ranging between small OB associations to super star clusters, with the upper mass limit correlated to the overall star formation rate of the host galaxy. Invisible at optical and near-IR wavelengths, these clusters are generally identified in the radio regime as having an optically thick free-free spectral energy distribution at wavelengths < 6cm (\alpha > 0 for S\nu \propto \nu\alpha). The inferred properties of these objects are truly remarkable: they have estimated sizes of a few parsecs, masses of up to \approx 106 M\odot, electron densities up to \approx 105 cm-3, and ages possibly as young as a few \times 105 years. These properties imply that we may be witnessing the earliest stages of globular cluster evolution yet observed.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 34
© 2002. The American Astronomical Soceity.