Volume 593, September 2016
|Number of page(s)||8|
|Published online||26 September 2016|
Unresolved versus resolved: testing the validity of young simple stellar population models with VLT/MUSE observations of NGC 3603⋆
1 Millennium Institute of Astrophysics, Casilla 36-D, Santiago, Chile
2 Departamento de Astronomía, Universidad de Chile, Casilla 36-D, Santiago, Chile
3 European Southern Observatory, Alonso de Córdova 3107, Vitacura, Casilla 190001, Santiago, Chile
4 Max-Planck-Institut für Extraterrestrische Physik, Giessenbachstraße, 85748 Garching, Germany
Received: 28 April 2016
Accepted: 7 July 2016
Context. Stellar populations are the building blocks of galaxies, including the Milky Way. The majority, if not all, extragalactic studies are entangled with the use of stellar population models given the unresolved nature of their observation. Extragalactic systems contain multiple stellar populations with complex star formation histories. However, studies of these systems are mainly based upon the principles of simple stellar populations (SSP). Hence, it is critical to examine the validity of SSP models.
Aims. This work aims to empirically test the validity of SSP models. This is done by comparing SSP models against observations of spatially resolved young stellar population in the determination of its physical properties, that is, age and metallicity.
Methods. Integral field spectroscopy of a young stellar cluster in the Milky Way, NGC 3603, was used to study the properties of the cluster as both a resolved and unresolved stellar population. The unresolved stellar population was analysed using the Hα equivalent width as an age indicator and the ratio of strong emission lines to infer metallicity. In addition, spectral energy distribution (SED) fitting using STARLIGHT was used to infer these properties from the integrated spectrum. Independently, the resolved stellar population was analysed using the colour-magnitude diagram (CMD) to determine age and metallicity. As the SSP model represents the unresolved stellar population, the derived age and metallicity were tested to determine whether they agree with those derived from resolved stars.
Results. The age and metallicity estimate of NGC 3603 derived from integrated spectroscopy are confirmed to be within the range of those derived from the CMD of the resolved stellar population, including other estimates found in the literature. The result from this pilot study supports the reliability of SSP models for studying unresolved young stellar populations.
Key words: galaxies: stellar content / galaxies: star clusters: general / open clusters and associations: individual: NGC 3603 / galaxies: starburst
© ESO, 2016
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