A rare early-type star revealed in the wing of the Small Magellanic Cloud

C. J. Evans, R. Hainich, L. M. Oskinova, J. S. Gallagher, Y. H. Chu, R. A. Gruendl, W. R. Hamann, V. Hénault-Brunet, H. Todt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sk183 is the visually brightest star in the N90 nebula, a young star-forming region in the Wing of the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC). We present new optical spectroscopy from the Very Large Telescope which reveals Sk183 to be one of the most massive O-type stars in the SMC. Classified as an O3-type dwarf on the basis of its nitrogen spectrum, the star also displays broadened He I absorption, which suggests a later type. We propose that Sk183 has a composite spectrum and that it is similar to another star in the SMC, MPG324. This brings the number of rare O2- and O3-type stars known in the whole of the SMC to a mere four. We estimate physical parameters for Sk183 from analysis of its spectrum. For a single-star model, we estimate an effective temperature of 46 ± 2kK, a low mass-loss rate of 10-7M yr-1, and a spectroscopic mass of 46+9 -8M (for an adopted distance modulus of 18.7mag to the young population in the SMC Wing). An illustrative binary model requires a slightly hotter temperature (47.5kK) for the primary component. In either scenario, Sk183 is the earliest-type star known in N90 and will therefore be the dominant source of hydrogen-ionizing photons. This suggests Sk183 is the primary influence on the star formation along the inner edge of the nebula.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number173
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 10 2012


  • open clusters and associations: individual (NGC 602)
  • stars: early-type
  • stars: fundamental parameters
  • stars: individual (Sanduleak 183)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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