The deep OB-star population in Carina from the VST Photometric H-alpha Survey (VPHAS+)

M. Mohr-Smith, Janet Drew, Ralf Napiwotzki, S. Simon-Diaz, N. J. Wright, Geert Barentsen, J. Eisloeffel, Hywel Farnhill, R. Greimel, Maria Monguio, V. Kalari, Q. A. Parker, Jorick S. Vink

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Massive OB stars are critical to the ecology of galaxies and yet our knowledge of OB stars in the Milky Way, fainter than V ∼ 12, remains patchy. Data from the VST Photometric Hα Survey (VPHAS+) permit the construction of the first deep catalogues of blue excess-selected OB stars, without neglecting the stellar field. A total of 14 900 candidates with 2MASS cross-matches are blue-selected from a 42 deg2 region in the Galactic plane, capturing the Carina Arm over the Galactic longitude range 282◦ 293◦. Spectral energy distribution fitting is performed on these candidates’ combined VPHAS+ u, g, r, i and 2MASS J, H, K magnitudes. This delivers effective temperature constraints, statistically separating O from early-B stars and high-quality extinction parameters, A0 and RV (random errors typically ∼0.1). The high-confidence O-B2 candidates number 5915 and a further 5170 fit to later B spectral type. Spectroscopy of 276 of the former confirms 97 per cent of them. The fraction of emission-line stars among all candidate B stars is 7–8 per cent. Greyer (RV > 3.5) extinction laws are ubiquitous in the region, over the distance range 2.5–3 to ∼10 kpc. Near prominent massive clusters, RV tends to rise, with particularly large and chaotic excursions to RV ∼ 5 seen in the Carina Nebula. The data reveal a hitherto unnoticed association of 108 O-B2 stars around the O5If+ star LSS 2063 ( = 289.◦77, b = −1.◦22). Treating the OB star scaleheight as a constant within the thin disc, we find an orderly mean relation between extinction (A0) and distance in the Galactic longitude range, 287.◦6 << 293. ◦5, and infer the subtle onset of thin-disc warping. A halo around NGC 3603, roughly a degree in diameter, of ∼500 O-B2 stars with 4 < A0(mag) < 7 is noted.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberstw2751
Pages (from-to)1807-1830
Number of pages24
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
Early online date28 Oct 2016
Publication statusPublished - 21 Feb 2017


  • surveys - stars: early type-dust
  • extinction - Galaxy: disc-open clusters and associations: general


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