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The stellar content of the Wolf-Rayet galaxy NGC 5253 from ISO-SWS spectroscopy

  • Paul A. Crowther (a1), Sara C. Beck (a2), Allan J. Willis (a1), Peter S. Conti (a3), Patrick W. Morris (a4) and Ralph S. Sutherland (a5)...

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Wolf-Rayet galaxies are a subset of blue emission-line galaxies, whose spectra show the signature of large numbers of WR stars, with ages in the range 1-10 x 106 yr. Mid infra-red observations are well suited to the study of their hot, massive stars since this spectral region contains many fine-structure nebular lines which depend very sensitively on stellar content. The observations of ISO have opened-up this window, which we are exploiting through a Guest Observer program with the Short Wavelength Spectrometer (sws), that includes NGC 5253, a nearby (4 Mpc) WR galaxy. NGC 5253 contains several young super-star clusters, no older than a few million years and has been the focus of many recent studies which have shown that the extinction is very high and patchy in the UV and optical. ISO observations of NGC 5253 are particularly important since the interstellar extinction at mid-IR wavelengths is low and because of its remarkably hot and young stellar population.

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References

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