Journal Article

Age dating stellar populations in the near infrared: an absolute age indicator from the presence/absence of red supergiants

J. Z. Gazak, N. Bastian, R.-P. Kudritzki, A. Adamo, B. Davies, B. Plez and M. A. Urbaneja

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 430, issue 1, pages L35-L39
Published in print March 2013 |
Published online December 2012 | e-ISSN: 1745-3933 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/mnrasl/sls043

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The determination of age is a critical component in the study of a population of stellar clusters. In this Letter, we present a new absolute age indicator for young massive star clusters based on JH colour. This novel method identifies clusters as older or younger than 5.7 ± 0.8 Myr based on the appearance of the first population of red supergiant stars. We test the technique on the stellar cluster population of the nearby spiral galaxy, M83, finding good agreement with the theoretical predictions. The localization of this technique to the near-IR promises that it may be used well into the future with space- and ground-based missions optimized for near-IR observations.

Keywords: supergiants; galaxies: star clusters: general

Journal Article.  3199 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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