Published online by Cambridge University Press: 10 November 2010
Super-associations and star complexes
The concept of a “superassociation” was first introduced by Baade (1963) in his Harvard lectures in 1958. He gave this name to a region about 500 pc across around the giant HII region 30 Dor in the LMC which is full of OB-associations. The same region was the first example of a super-association given by Ambartsumian (1964). Altogether, 19 OB-associations and young clusters here form a morphological unit of 1 kpc in diameter with evident hierarchical structure (Efremov 1988, 1989).
One may say that a “super-association” is the counterpart of a hydrogen emission nebula (HII region) in B, V etc. broad bands. Wray and de Vaucouleur (1980) have shown that in the B bandpass the continuum-to-emission ratio is always greater than 10:1. Thus in this band one deals mainly with the star population of a super-association.
Nevertheless, the diameter of the 30 Dor HII region is only 250 pc and it occupies less than 0.1 of the total area of the super-association, the remaining HII regions here being much smaller. This may well also be the case for extragalactic super-associations – giant HII regions. In bright star cloud NGC 206 in M31, named by Baade (1963) as a real super-association, there are only a few small HII regions, not seen at all on the B plates.
In many respects super-associations (SAs) are similar to common star complexes (Efremov 1978, 1993), the main difference being the richness of an SA in HII gas and OB stars that causes the high total luminosity.