European Southern Observatory, Karl-Schwarzschild-Str. 2, 85748 Garching bei München, Germany
2 Departament d'Astronomia i Meteorologia, Universitat de Barcelona, Av. Diagonal 647, 08028 Barcelona, Spain e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Corresponding author: F. Comerón, email@example.com
Accepted: 12 April 2001
We present a near-infrared imaging survey of compact HII regions in the direction of the Cygnus X complex, for which no previous observations at those wavelengths have been published so far. The targets have been selected from a catalog of sources in that region having a thermal spectral energy distribution between 408 and 4800 MHz (Wendker et al. 1991), and an inferred angular size smaller than 5 arcmin across. We present images in the JHK filters, color-magnitude, and color-color diagrams for each region. We also suggest and apply a method for estimating the distance by comparing the dereddened H-band flux from all the stars in the area of the HII region and the radio-continuum flux. Many of the regions imaged are clearly associated with stellar aggregates with different degrees of concentration, whose components show varying amounts of extinction. Some objects are often found in the region of the , diagram indicating excess emission of circumstellar nature. A detailed discussion on each object is provided in the context of existing published observations at different wavelengths, in particular regarding the existence of ultracompact components. A number of ultracompact HII regions are found to have clearly visible unresolved or nearly unresolved K-band counterparts characterized by very red colors, suggesting that the extinction may be low enough in their direction so as to allow the direct observation of the star ionizing the ultracompact component.
Key words: stars: early-type / HII regions / ISM: individual objects: Cygnus X
© ESO, 2001