Open Clusters in the Milky Way Outer Disk: Newly Discovered and Unstudied Clusters in the Spitzer GLIMPSE-360, CYG-X, and SMOG Surveys
The Astronomical Journal, Volume 146, Issue 3, article id. 64, 20 pp. (2013).
Published in Sep 2013
Open stellar clusters are extremely valuable probes of Galactic structure, star formation, kinematics, and chemical abundance patterns. Near-infrared (NIR) data have enabled the detection of hundreds of clusters hidden from optical surveys, and mid-infrared (MIR) data are poised to offer an even clearer view into the most heavily obscured parts of the Milky Way. We use new MIR images from the Spitzer GLIMPSE-360, Cyg-X, and SMOG surveys to visually identify a large number of open cluster candidates in the outer disk of the Milky Way (65° 〈 l 〈 265°). Using NIR color-magnitude diagrams, stellar isochrones, and stellar reddening estimates, we derive cluster parameters (metallicity, distance, reddening) for those objects without previous identification and/or parameters in the literature. In total, we present coordinates and sizes of 20 previously unknown open cluster candidates; for 7 of these we also present metallicity, distance, and reddening values. In addition, we provide the first estimates of these values for nine clusters that had been previously cataloged. We compare our cluster sizes and other derived parameters to those in the open cluster catalog of Dias et al. and find strong similarities except for a higher mean reddening for our objects, which signifies our increased detection sensitivity in regions of high extinction. The results of this cluster search and analysis demonstrate the ability of MIR imaging and photometry to augment significantly the current census of open clusters in the Galaxy.
Galaxy: stellar content; infrared: stars; open clusters and associations: general