Arches Cluster

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Arches Cluster
Arches cluster
Arches Cluster of young, massive stars. This image was obtained with NACO adaptive optics system on ESO’s Very Large Telescope.
Observation data (J2000 epoch)
Constellation Sagittarius
Right ascension 17h 45m 50.5s
Declination –28° 49′ 28″
Distance 25 kly (8.5 kpc)
Physical characteristics
Notable features Optically obscured
See also: Open cluster, List of open clusters

The Arches Cluster is the densest known star cluster in the Milky Way located about 100 light years from its center, in the constellation Sagittarius. Due to extremely heavy optical extinction by dust in this region, the Arches Cluster is obscured in the visual bands, and is observed in the X-ray, infrared, and radio bands. The radius of the Arches Cluster is approximately one light-year. It contains approximately 150 young, very hot stars that are many times larger and more massive than the Sun.[1] Such stars live for only a few million years before exhausting their hydrogen fuel, due to their extreme luminosity. The cluster also contains hot gas, produced in shocks by collisions among the massive, high-velocity stellar winds flowing outwards from the stars.

This star cluster and the Quintuplet cluster, another massive young cluster in the region, are estimated to be two to four million years old. Although possibly larger and denser than the Quintuplet Cluster, it appears to be slightly younger. The most evolved stars are barely edging away from the main sequence while the Quintuplet Cluster includes a number of hot supergiants as well as a red supergiant and the Luminous Blue Variable The Pistol Star. The most massive of their stars are expected to become supernovas, forming neutron stars or black holes, or else be torn apart by tidal forces from the black hole known to lie at the Galactic center.[citation needed]

Work by Donald Figer, an astronomer at the Rochester Institute of Technology suggests that 150 solar masses is the upper limit of stars in the current era of the universe.[2] He used the Hubble Space Telescope to observe about a thousand stars in the Arches cluster and found no stars over that limit despite a statistical expectation that there should be several. However, later research demostrated a very high sensitivity of the calculated star masses upon the extiction laws used for mass derivation, which can affect the upper mass limit by about 30% using different extinction laws[3] (possibly from 150 solar mass to about 100 solar mass).

Arches Cluster.
False color IR image of the Arches Cluster.
Prominent stars
Star (B=Blum,[4] F=Figer[5]) Spectral type[6] Magnitude[6] (bolometric) Temperature[6] (effective, K) Mass[7] (x solar) Radius (x solar)
B1 WN8-9h −10.1 31,700 50 - 60 32
F1 WN8-9h −11.0 33,200 101 - 119 43
F2 WN8-9h −10.2 33,500 42 - 49 30
F3 WN8-9h −10.5 29,600 52 - 63 43
F4 WN7-8h −11.0 36,800 66 - 76 35
F5 WN8-9h −10.1 32,100 31 - 36 31
F6 WN8-9h −11.1 33,900 101 - 119 44
F7 WN8-9h −11.0 32,900 86 - 102 44
F8 WN8-9h −10.5 32,900 43 - 51 35
F9 WN8-9h −11.1 36,600 111 - 131 38
F10 O4-6If+ −10.1 32,200 55 - 69 24
F12 WN7-8h −10.8 36,900 70 - 82 31
F14 WN8-9h −10.2 34,500 54 - 65 28
F15 O4-6If+ −10.6 35,600 80 - 97 32
F16 WN8-9h −10.0 32,200 46 - 56 29
F18 O4-6I −10.4 36,900 67 - 82 26
F20 O4-6I −10.0 38,200 47 - 57 21
F21 O4-6I −10.1 35,500 56 - 70 25
F28 O4-6I −10.1 39,600 57 - 72 23


  1. ^ "Espinoza et al. The massive star initial mass function of the Arches cluster". Astronomy and Astrophysic. 2009. doi:10.1051/0004-6361/20078597. 
  2. ^ "NASA's Hubble Weighs in on the Heaviest Stars in the Galaxy". NASA News. 2005-03-09. Retrieved 2006-08-04. 
  3. ^ "Habibi et al. The Arches cluster out to its tidal radius: dynamical mass segregation and the effect of the extinction law on the stellar mass function". Astronomy and Astrophysic. 2013. doi:10.1051/0004-6361/201220556. 
  4. ^ Blum, R. D.; Schaerer, D.; Pasquali, A.; Heydari-Malayeri, M.; Conti, P. S.; Schmutz, W. (2001). "2 Micron Narrowband Adaptive Optics Imaging in the Arches Cluster". The Astronomical Journal 122 (4): 1875. arXiv:astro-ph/0106496. Bibcode:2001AJ....122.1875B. doi:10.1086/323096.  edit
  5. ^ Figer, D. F.; Najarro, F.; Gilmore, D.; Morris, M.; Kim, S. S.; Serabyn, E.; McLean, I. S.; Gilbert, A. M.; Graham, J. R.; Larkin, J. E.; Levenson, N. A.; Teplitz, H. I. (2002). "Massive Stars in the Arches Cluster". The Astrophysical Journal 581: 258. arXiv:astro-ph/0208145. Bibcode:2002ApJ...581..258F. doi:10.1086/344154.  edit
  6. ^ a b c Martins, F.; Hillier, D. J.; Paumard, T.; Eisenhauer, F.; Ott, T.; Genzel, R. (2008). "The most massive stars in the Arches cluster". Astronomy and Astrophysics 478: 219. arXiv:0711.0657. Bibcode:2008A&A...478..219M. doi:10.1051/0004-6361:20078469.  edit
  7. ^ Gräfener; Vink; de Koter; Langer (2011). "The Eddington factor as the key to understand the winds of the most massive stars. Evidence for a Gamma-dependence of Wolf-Rayet type mass loss". arXiv:1106.5361v1 [astro-ph.SR].

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