The main sequence of three red supergiant clusters

Dirk Froebrich, Alexander Scholz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Massive clusters in our Galaxy are an ideal testbed to investigate the properties and evolution of high-mass stars. They provide statistically significant samples of massive stars of uniform ages. To accurately determine the intrinsic physical properties of these stars, we need to establish the distances, ages and reddening of the clusters. One avenue to achieve this is the identification and characterization of the main-sequence (MS) members of red supergiant (RSG) rich clusters. Here, we utilize publicly available data from the UKIDSS Galactic Plane Survey. We show that point spread function photometry in conjunction with standard photometric decontamination techniques allows us to identify the most likely MS members in the 10-20 Myr old clusters RSGC 1-3. We confirm the previous detection of the MS in RSGC 2 and provide the first MS detection in RSGC 1 and RSGC 3. There are in excess of 100 stars with more than 8 M⊙ identified in each cluster. These MS members are concentrated towards the spectroscopically confirmed RSG stars. We utilize the J - K colours of the bright MS stars to determine the K-band extinction towards the clusters. The differential reddening is three times as large in the youngest cluster RSGC 1 as compared to the two older clusters RSGC 2 and RSGC 3. Spectroscopic follow-up of the cluster MS stars should lead to more precise distance and age estimates for these clusters as well as the determination of the stellar mass function in these high-mass environments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1116-1122
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
Early online date27 Sept 2013
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2013


  • open clusters and associations: general
  • galaxies: star clusters: general


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