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Jia Wei Teh
The Australian National University
Jia Wei Teh is a fourth-year (Honours year) undergraduate student majoring in Astronomy and Astrophysics at the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics, The Australian National University. His research interest lies primarily in the study of galaxy evolution and star formation, through the analysis of IFU data. This project is the first part of his honours year thesis, which is completed under the supervision of Dr. Kathryn Grasha, Prof. Mark. Krumholz, and Dr. Andrew Battisti.
H II regions are visually spectacular bubbles of ionised hydrogen gas typically found surrounding newly formed star clusters. They are created by extreme UV radiation from young and massive O-type or B-type stars in the cluster. Ideally, we hope to understand the correlation between properties (i.e., mass, age, ionizing photon flux) of the young star clusters (YSCs) and their ionised regions, by matching YSCs to the H II regions they create.
In this project, we matched YSCs available in the Legacy ExtraGalactic UV Survey (LEGUS) to H II regions in The Star formation, Ionized gas, and Nebular Abundances Legacy Survey (SIGNALS) of the nearby spiral galaxy, NGC 628 (see Figure 1). To our surprise, we found that 62% of H II regions in the combined catalogue lack corresponding young star clusters (YSC; star clusters with an age of ≤ 10 Myr).
We examined possible explanations for these “orphan” H II regions. One main method used to perform this analysis is the stochastic stellar population synthesis code, Stochastically Lighting Up Galaxies (SLUG), to create a library of 100,000 synthetic YSCs. For each synthesised YSC, we checked if it would be classified as star cluster in LEGUS, and then estimated its Hα luminosity via a series of conversions. The expected fraction of orphan H II regions is then the ratio of synthetic YSCs that are not detectable in LEGUS but are able to produce detectable H II regions to the total number of detectable H II regions. In the synthesised YSCs, we found that 48% of H II regions detectable by SIGNALS are powered by YSCs which would not be detected in LEGUS (see Figure 2).
The conclusion we drew from this analysis is that orphan H II regions in the combined catalogue likely result from star clusters that can create H II regions bright enough to be seen, yet themselves remain undetected. The orphan H II regions are not due to a flaw in our understanding of the physics that govern the link between YSCs and H II regions, but rather a result of difference in detection limits: that the sensitivity of the star cluster survey is simply not deep enough to obtain a complete catalogue of cluster−H II region associations. Our next goal is to assemble the results of this combined catalogue and investigate the physical connections between star clusters and H II regions in NGC 628.
Astrobite edited by: Haley Wahl