We present near infrared JHK imaging of the Small Magellanic Cloud compact H II region N81 using the ISAAC camera at the ESO Very Large Telescope (Antu). Our analysis of the stellar environment of this young massive star region reveals the presence of three new stellar populations in the surrounding field which are mainly composed of low mass stars. The main population is best fitted by evolutionary models for ~ 2 Msun, stars with an age of 1 Gyr. We argue that these populations are not physically associated with the H II region N81. Instead they are the result of a number of low mass star forming events through the depth of the SMC south of its Shapley's wing. The populations can rather easily be probed due to the low interstellar extinction in that direction.Based on observations obtained at the European Southern Observatory, Paranal, Chile; Program 69.A-0123(A). Based on observations made with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, obtained at the Space Telescope Science Institute, which is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., under NASA contract NAS 5-26555. These observations are associated with program # 6535.
Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Pub Date:
- December 2003
- stars: early-type;
- ISM: individual objects: N81 (SMC);
- galaxies: Magellanic Clouds;
- 11 pages, 5 figures, accepted for publication in A&