On the massive star content of the nearby dwarf irregular Wolf-Rayet galaxy IC 4662 *
Department of Physics & Astronomy, Hicks Building, University of Sheffield, Hounsfield Road, Sheffield S3 7RH, UK e-mail: Paul.Crowther@sheffield.ac.uk
Accepted: 11 March 2009
Aims. We investigate the massive stellar content of the nearby dwarf irregular Wolf-Rayet galaxy IC 4662, and consider its global star forming properties in the context of other metal-poor galaxies, namely the SMC, IC 10 and NGC 1569.
Methods. Very Large Telescope/FORS2 imaging and spectroscopy plus archival Hubble Space Telescope/ACS imaging datasets permit us to spatially identify the location, number and probable subtypes of Wolf-Rayet stars within this galaxy. We also investigate suggestions that a significant fraction of the ionizing photons of the two giant H ii regions A1 and A2 lie deeply embedded within these regions.
Results. Wolf-Rayet stars are associated with a number of sources within IC 4662-A1 and A2, plus a third compact H ii region to the north west of A1 (A1-NW). Several sources appear to be isolated, single (or binary) luminous nitrogen sequence WR stars, while extended sources are clusters whose masses exceed the Orion Nebula Cluster by, at most, a factor of two. IC 4662 lacks optically visible young massive, compact clusters that are common in other nearby dwarf irregular galaxies. A comparison between radio and Hα-derived ionizing fluxes of A1 and A2 suggests that 30–50% of their total Lyman continuum fluxes lie deeply embedded within these regions.
Conclusions. The star formation surface density of IC 4662 is insufficient for this galaxy to qualify as a starburst galaxy, based upon its photometric radius, R25. If instead, we were to adopt the V-band scale length RD from Hunter & Elmegreen, IC 4662 would comfortably qualify as a starburst galaxy, since its star formation intensity would exceed 0.1 yr-1 kpc-2.
Key words: galaxies: individual: IC 4662 / stars: Wolf-Rayet / ISM: HII regions / galaxies: star clusters / galaxies: starburst / galaxies: dwarf
© ESO, 2009