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Astron. Astrophys. 354, 836-846 (2000)

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Young massive star clusters in nearby spiral galaxies *

III. Correlations between cluster populations and host galaxy properties

S.S. Larsen 1,2 and T. Richtler 3,4

1 Copenhagen University Astronomical Observatory, Juliane Maries Vej 32, 2100 Copenhagen O, Denmark
2 UCO/Lick Observatory, Kerr Hall, UC Santa Cruz, CA 95064, USA (soeren@ucolick.org)
3 Sternwarte der Universität Bonn, Auf dem Hügel 71, 53121 Bonn, Germany
4 Grupo de Astronomía, Departamento de Física, Casilla 160-C, Universidad de Concepción, Concepción, Chile (tom@coma.cfm.udec.cl)

Received 16 August 1999 / Accepted 22 December 1999


We present an analysis of correlations between integrated properties of galaxies and their populations of young massive star clusters. Data for 21 nearby galaxies presented by Larsen & Richtler (1999) are used together with literature data for 10 additional galaxies, spanning a range in specific U-band cluster luminosity [FORMULA] from 0 to 15. We find that [FORMULA] correlates with several observable host galaxy parameters, in particular the ratio of Far-Infrared (FIR) to B-band flux and the surface brightness. Taking the FIR luminosity as an indicator of the star formation rate (SFR), it is found that [FORMULA] correlates very well with the SFR per unit area. A similar correlation is seen between [FORMULA] and the atomic hydrogen surface density. The cluster formation efficiency seems to depend on the SFR in a continuous way, rather than being related to any particularly violent mode of star formation. We discuss fundamental features of possible scenarios for cluster formation. One possibility is that the correlation between [FORMULA] and SFR is due to a common controlling parameter, most probably the high density of the ISM. Another scenario conceives a high [FORMULA] as resulting from the energy input from many massive stars in case of a high SFR.

Key words: galaxies: general – galaxies: spiral – galaxies: starburst – galaxies: star clusters – stars: formation

* Based on observations made with the Nordic Optical Telescope, operated on the island of La Palma jointly by Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden, in the Spanish Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos of the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias, and with the Danish 1.5-m telescope at ESO, La Silla, Chile.

Send offprint requests to: S.S. Larsen

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© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 2000

Online publication: February 25, 2000