Spitzer irac observations of star formation in N159 in the large magellanic cloud

Terry J Jones, Chick E Woodward, Martha L. Boyer, Robert D Gehrz, Elisha Polomski

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We present observations of the giant H II region complex N159 in the LMC using IRAC on the Spitzer Space Telescope. One of the two objects previously identified as protostars in N159 has a spectral energy distribution (SED) consistent with classification as a Class I young stellar object (YSO), and the other is probably a Class I YSO as well, making these two stars the youngest stars known outside the Milky Way. We identify two other sources that may also be Class I YSOs. One component, N159AN, is completely hidden at optical wavelengths but is very prominent in the infrared. The integrated luminosity of the entire complex is L ≈ 9 × 106 L, consistent with the observed radio emission, assuming a normal Galactic initial mass function (IMF). There is no evidence for a red supergiant population indicative of an older burst of star formation. The N159 complex is 50 pc in diameter, larger in physical size than typical H II regions in the Milky Way with comparable luminosity. We argue that all of the individual components are related in their star formation history. The morphology of the region is consistent with a wind-blown bubble ≈ 1-2 Myr old that has initiated star formation now taking place at the rim. Other than its large physical size, star formation in N159 appears to be indistinguishable from star formation in the Milky Way.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)731-743
Number of pages13
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2 I
StatePublished - Feb 20 2005


  • H II regions
  • Magellanic Clouds
  • Stars: Formation


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