Nebular C iv λ1550 Imaging of the Metal-poor Starburst Mrk 71: Direct Evidence of Catastrophic Cooling

M. S. Oey, Amit N. Sawant, Ashkbiz Danehkar, Sergiy Silich, Linda J. Smith, Jens Melinder, Claus Leitherer, Matthew Hayes, Anne E. Jaskot, Daniela Calzetti, You Hua Chu, Bethan L. James, Göran Östlin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We use the Hubble Space Telescope Advanced Camera for Surveys to obtain the first spatially resolved, nebular imaging in the light of C iv λ λ1548, 1551 by using the F150LP and F165LP filters. These observations of the local starburst Mrk 71 in NGC 2366 show emission apparently originating within the interior cavity around the dominant super star cluster (SSC), Knot A. Together with imaging in He ii λ4686 and supporting Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph far-ultraviolet spectroscopy, the morphology and intensity of the C iv nebular surface brightness and the C iv/He ii ratio map provide direct evidence that the mechanical feedback is likely dominated by catastrophic radiative cooling, which strongly disrupts adiabatic superbubble evolution. The implied extreme mass loading and low kinetic efficiency of the cluster wind are reasonably consistent with the wind energy budget, which is probably enhanced by radiation pressure. In contrast, the Knot B SSC lies within a well-defined superbubble with associated soft X-rays and He ii λ1640 emission, which are signatures of adiabatic, energy-driven feedback from a supernova-driven outflow. This system lacks clear evidence of C iv from the limb-brightened shell, as expected for this model, but the observations may not be deep enough to confirm its presence. We also detect a small C iv-emitting object that is likely an embedded compact H ii region. Its C iv emission may indicate the presence of very massive stars (>100 M ) or strongly pressure-confined stellar feedback.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL10
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Issue numberL10
StatePublished - Nov 1 2023
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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