Super star clusters in Haro 11: properties of a very young starburst and evidence for a near-infrared flux excess
Journal article, 2010
We have used multiband imaging to investigate the nature of an extreme starburst environment in the nearby Lyman break galaxy analogue Haro 11 (ESO350-IG038) by means of its stellar cluster population. The central starburst region has been observed in eight different high-resolution Hubble Space Telescope (HST) wavebands, sampling the stellar and gas components from UV to near-infrared. Photometric imaging of the galaxy was also carried out at 2.16μm by NaCo AO instrument at the ESO Very Large Telescope. We constructed integrated spectral energy distributions (SEDs) for about 200 star clusters located in the active star-forming regions and compared them with single stellar population models (suitable for physical properties of very young cluster population) in order to derive ages, masses and extinctions of the star clusters. The cluster age distribution we recover confirms that the present starburst has lasted for 40Myr, and shows a peak of cluster formation only 3.5 Myr old. With such an extremely young cluster population, Haro 11 represents a unique opportunity to investigate the youngest phase of the cluster formation process and evolution in starburst systems. We looked for possible relations between cluster ages, extinctions and masses. Extinction tends to diminish as a function of the cluster age, but the spread is large and reaches the highest dispersion for clusters in partial embedded phases (<5Myr). A fraction of low-mass (below 104 Msolar), very young (1-3Myr) clusters is missing, either because they are embedded in the parental molecular cloud and heavily extinguished, or because of blending with neighbouring clusters. The range of the cluster masses is wide; we observe that more than 30 per cent of the clusters have masses above 105 Msolar, qualifying them as super star clusters. Almost half of the cluster sample is affected by flux excesses at wavelengths >8000Å which cannot be explained by simple stellar evolutionary models. Fitting SED models over all wavebands leads to systematic overestimates of cluster ages and incorrect masses for the stellar population supplying the light in these clusters. We show that the red excess affects also the HST F814W filter, which is typically used to constrain cluster physical properties. The clusters which show the red excess are younger than 40Myr we discuss possible physical explanations for the phenomenon. Finally, we estimate that Haro 11 has produced bound clusters at a rate almost a factor of 10 higher than the massive and regular spirals, like the Milky Way. The present cluster formation efficiency is ~38 per cent of the galactic star formation rate.
galaxies: star clusters: individual: Haro 11