The Dragonfish Nebula has been recently claimed to be powered by a superluminous but elusive OB association. Instead, systematic searches in near-infrared photometric surveys have found many other cluster candidates on this sky region. Among these, the first confirmed young massive cluster was Mercer 30, where Wolf-Rayet stars were found. We perform a new characterization of Mercer 30 with unprecedented accuracy, combining NICMOS/HST and VVV photometric data with multi-epoch ISAAC/VLT H- and K-band spectra. Stellar parameters for most of spectroscopically observed cluster members are found through precise non-LTE atmosphere modeling with the CMFGEN code. Our spectrophotometric study for this cluster yields a new, revised distance of d = (12.4 +- 1.7) kpc and a total of Q = 6.70 x 10^50 Lyman ionizing photons. A cluster age of (4.0 +- 0.8) Myr is found through isochrone fitting, and a total mass of (1.6 +- 0.6) x 10^4 Msol is estimated thanks to our extensive knowledge of the post-main-sequence population. As a consequence, membership of Mercer 30 to the Dragonfish star-forming complex is confirmed, allowing us to use this cluster as a probe for the whole complex, which turns out to be extremely large (400 pc across) and located at the outer edge of the Sagittarius-Carina spiral arm (11 kpc from the Galactic Center). The Dragonfish complex hosts 19 young clusters or cluster candidates (including Mercer 30 and a new candidate presented in this work) and an estimated minimum of 9 field Wolf-Rayet stars. The sum of all these contributions accounts for, at least, 73% of the Dragonfish Nebula ionization and leaves little or no room for the alleged superluminous OB association; alternative explanations are discussed.
|Number of pages||23|
|Journal||Astronomy & Astrophysics|
|Early online date||14 Apr 2016|
|Publication status||Published - 1 May 2016|