The Astrophysical Journal | VOL. 728
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A CANDIDATE FOR THE MOST LUMINOUS OB ASSOCIATION IN THE GALAXY

Publication Date Jan 31, 2011

Abstract

The Milky Way harbors giant H II regions, which may be powered by star complexes more luminous than any known Galactic OB association. Being across the disk of the Galaxy, however, these brightest associations are severely extinguished and confused. We present a search for one such association toward the most luminous H II region in the recent catalog by Murray and Rahman, which, at {approx}9.7 kpc, has a recombination rate of {approx}7 x 10{sup 51} s{sup -1}. Prior searches have identified only small-scale clustering around the rim of this shell-like region, but the primary association has not previously been identified. We apply a near-infrared color selection and find an overdensity of point sources toward its southern central part. The colors and magnitudes of these excess sources are consistent with O- and early B-type stars at extinctions 0.96 < A{sub K} < 1.2, and they are sufficiently numerous (406 {+-} 102 after subtraction of field sources) to ionize the surrounding H II region, making this a candidate for the most luminous OB association in the Galaxy. We reject an alternate theory, in which the apparent excess is caused by localized extinction, as inconsistent with source demographics.

Concepts

Galactic OB Association Southern Central Part Early B-type Stars Small-scale Clustering Apparent Excess OB Association Subtraction Of Sources Milky Way Localized Extinction Magnitudes Of Sources

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