Spitzer observations of the giant molecular cloud W3

Gerald T. Ruch, Terry J. Jones, Charles E. Woodward, Elisha F. Polomski, Robert D. Gehrz, S. T. Megeath

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23 Scopus citations


We present new images of the giant molecular cloud W3 obtained with the Infrared Array Camera (IRAC) and the Multiband Imaging Photometer for Spitzer (MIPS) on board the Spitzer Space Telescope. The images encompass the star forming regions W3 Main, W3(OH), and a region that we refer to as the Central Cluster, which encloses-the emission nebula IC 1795. We present a star count analysis of the point sources detected in W3. The star count analysis shows that the stellar population of the Central Cluster, when compared to that in the background, contains an over density of sources. The Central Cluster also contains an excess of sources with colors consistent with Class II young stellar objects (YSOs). An analysis of the color-color diagrams also reveals a large number of Class II YSOs in the Central Cluster. Our results suggest that an earlier epoch of star formation created the Central Cluster, created a cavity, and triggered the active star formation in the W3 Main and W3(OH) regions. We also detect a new outflow and its candidate exciting star.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)338-346
Number of pages9
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1 I
StatePublished - Jan 1 2007


  • ISM: individual (W3)
  • Infrared: ISM
  • Infrared: stars
  • Stars: formation
  • Stars: pre-main-sequence
  • Stars: statistics


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