Letter to the Editor
2.3 μm CO emission and absorption from young high-mass stars in M 17
Astronomisches Institut, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, 44780 Bochum, Germany e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
2 European Southern Observatory, Santiago 19, Chile
3 Instituto de Astronomía, Universidad Católica del Norte, Antofagasta, Chile
4 Departamento de Física y Meteorología, Universidad de Valparaíso, Chile
Accepted: 25 July 2006
Aims.We are studying the extremely young cluster of M 17 to investigate the birth of high-mass stars and the initial mass function.
Methods.Deep imaging and K-band spectroscopy from the VLT of 201 stars toward the cluster is presented.
Results.The majority of 104 stars show the CO band-head in absorption. Half of them emit X-rays and/or have infrared excess, indicative of very young objects. Their intrinsic IR luminosity is compatible with intermediate and high-mass pre-main sequence stars. Nine additional stars have the CO feature in emission, while sixty sources are lacking any stellar spectral feature due to veiling by circumstellar dust.
Conclusions.We suggest that CO absorption is – as in the case of low-mass stars – also a common feature during the early evolution of stars with higher masses. According to model calculations the observed CO absorption is most likely a sign of heavily accreting protostars with mass accretion rates above yr-1.
Key words: infrared: stars / ISM: H II regions / Galaxy: open clusters and associations: individual: M 17 / Galaxy: open clusters and associations: individual: NGC 6618 / stars: early-type / stars: circumstellar matter
© ESO, 2006