We present a differential comparison of the physical properties of the Galactic starburst cluster NGC 3603, located in the Carina spiral arm, and the nuclear Arches cluster. The study is based on deep high-spatial resolution near-infrared observations with the new generation of 8m class telescopes. Direct imaging data on NGC 3603 were obtained with VLT UT1 and ISAAC. The crowded environment in the vicinity of the Galactic Center requires still higher spatial resolution. The Arches cluster was observed with Gemini North and the University of Hawaii Adaptive Optics System Hokupa`a as part of the Gemini Demo Science project. The H and K band adaptive optics data are complemented by deep J-band direct imaging observations obtained with SUBARU and CISCO. We find no evidence for a lower mass cut-off in the initial mass function of the NGC 3603 cluster or the Arches cluster. In the case of NGC 3603, the whole spectrum of stellar masses from 0.1 Msun to 120 Msun is present. In agreement with previous studies, we find the initial mass function in both clusters to be less steep than the Salpeter slope for masses below 25 Msun. Despite the young age of the clusters, the percentage of cluster members with intrinsic infrared excess appears to be smaller than, e.g., in the Trapezium cluster in Orion. This suggests that circumstellar disks in starburst environments might not survive long enough to form planetary systems. Thus planetary systems in starburst environments might be rare. Support for this research was provided by the National Science Foundation.
American Astronomical Society Meeting Abstracts
- Pub Date:
- December 2000