Volume 404, Number 1, June II 2003
|Page(s)||249 - 254|
|Section||Interstellar and circumstellar matter|
|Published online||26 May 2003|
Identification of the ionizing source of NGC 2024*
Astronomical Institute “Anton Pannekoek”, University of Amsterdam, Kruislaan 403, 1098 SJ Amsterdam, The Netherlands
2 European Southern Observatory, Karl-Schwarzschild Strasse 2, Garching-bei-München, 85748, Germany
3 Instituut voor Sterrenkunde, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Celestijnenlaan 200B, 3001 Heverlee, Belgium
4 University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH 45221-0011, USA
Corresponding author: A. Bik, firstname.lastname@example.org
Accepted: 21 February 2003
We propose the late-O, early-B star IRS2b as the ionizing source of the Flame Nebula (NGC 2024). It has been clear that such a hot, massive star must be present in this heavily obscured region, and now it has been identified. New near-infrared photometry shows that IRS2b is the most luminous and hottest star in the young star cluster embedded in the center of NGC 2024. The near-infrared observations () cover ~90% of the H ii region detected in radio continuum radiation, making the probability very low that the ionizing star is not present in the field. A K-band spectrum of IRS2b obtained with ISAAC on the Very Large Telescope indicates that the spectral type of IRS2b is in the range O8 V – B2 V. Additional arguments indicate that its spectral type is likely closer to O8 than to B2. The corresponding amount of ionizing radiation is consistent with published radio continuum and recombination line observations.
Key words: stars: early-type / ISM: HII regions / ISM: individual objects: NGC 2024 / infrared: stars
© ESO, 2003
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