Journal Article

Probing the Large Magellanic Cloud age gap at intermediate cluster masses

E. Balbinot, B. X. Santiago, L. O. Kerber, B. Barbuy and B. M. S. Dias

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 404, issue 3, pages 1625-1632
Published in print May 2010 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online May 2010 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
Probing the Large Magellanic Cloud age gap at intermediate cluster masses

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The Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) has a rich star cluster system spanning a wide range of ages and masses. One striking feature of the LMC cluster system is the existence of an age gap between 3 and 10 Gyr. But this feature is not clearly seen among field stars. Three LMC fields containing relatively poor and sparse clusters whose integrated colours are consistent with those of intermediate-age simple stellar populations have been imaged in BVI with the Optical Imager (SOI) at the Southern Telescope for Astrophysical Research (SOAR). A total of six clusters, five of them with estimated initial masses M < 104 M, were studied in these fields. Photometry was performed and colour–magnitude diagrams (CMDs) were built using standard point spread function fitting methods. The faintest stars measured reach V∼ 23. The CMD was cleaned from field contamination by making use of the three-dimensional colour and magnitude space available in order to select stars in excess relative to the field. A statistical CMD comparison method was developed for this purpose. The subtraction method has proven to be successful, yielding cleaned CMDs consistent with a simple stellar population. The intermediate-age candidates were found to be the oldest in our sample, with ages between 1 and 2 Gyr. The remaining clusters found in the SOAR/SOI have ages ranging from 100 to 200 Myr. Our analysis has conclusively shown that none of the relatively low-mass clusters studied by us belongs to the LMC age gap.

Keywords: stars: statistics; Magellanic Clouds; galaxies: star clusters; galaxies: stellar content

Journal Article.  5325 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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