EDP Sciences
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Volume 419, Number 1, May III 2004
Page(s) 149 - 159
Section Galactic structure, stellar clusters and populations
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20035642

A&A 419, 149-159 (2004)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20035642

Optical photometry and spectral classification in the field of the open cluster NGC 6996 in the North America Nebula

S. Villanova1, G. Baume1, 2, G. Carraro1 and A. Geminale1

1  Dipartimento di Astronomia, Università di Padova, Vicolo Osservatorio 2, 35122 Padova, Italy
2  Facultad de Ciencias Astronómicas y Geofísicas de la UNLP, IALP-CONICET, Paseo del Bosque s/n, La Plata, Argentina

(Received 7 November 2003 / Accepted 30 January 2004)

We present and discuss broad band CCD UBV $(I)_{\rm C}$ photometry and low resolution spectroscopy for stars in the region of the open cluster NGC 6996, located in the North America Nebula. The new data allow us to tightly constrain the basic properties of this object. We revise the cluster size, which in the past has been significantly underestimated. The width of the Main Sequence is mainly interpreted in terms of differential reddening, and indeed the stars' color excess EB-V ranges from 0.43 to 0.65, implying the presence of a significant and evenly distributed dust component. We cross-correlate our optical photometry with near infrared photometry from 2MASS, and by means of spectral classification we are able to build extinction curves for an handful of bright members. We find that the reddening slope and the total to selective absorption ratio RV toward NGC 6996 are anomalous. Moreover the reddening-corrected colors and magnitudes allow us to derive estimates for the cluster distance and age, which turn out to be $760 \pm 70$ pc ( $V_{0}-M_{V} = 9.4 \pm 0.2$) and $\sim $350 Myr, respectively. Based on our results, we suggest that NGC 6996 is located in front of the North America Nebula, and does not seem to have any apparent relationship with it.

Key words: Galaxy: open clusters and associations: individual: NGC 6996 -- Galaxy: open clusters and associations: general

Offprint request: G. Carraro, giovanni.carraro@unipd.it

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