Spitzer view of young massive stars in the Large Magellanic Cloud H II complexes. II. N 159

C. H.Rosie Chen, Remy Indebetouw, You Hua Chu, Robert A. Gruendl, Gérard Testor, Fabian Heitsch, Jonathan P. Seale, Margaret Meixner, Marta Sewilo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The HII complex N 159 in the Large Magellanic Cloud is used to study massive star formation in different environments, as it contains three giant molecular clouds (GMCs) that have similar sizes and masses but exhibit different intensities of star formation. We identify candidate massive young stellar objects (YSOs) using infrared photometry, and model their spectral energy distributions to constrain mass and evolutionary state. Good fits are obtained for less evolved Type I, I/II, and II sources. Our analysis suggests that there are massive embedded YSOs in N 159B, a maser source, and several ultracompact HII regions. Massive O-type YSOs are found in GMCs N 159-E and N 159-W, which are associated with ionized gas, i.e., where massive stars formed a few Myr ago. The third GMC, N 159-S, has neither O-type YSOs nor evidence of previous massive star formation. This correlation between current and antecedent formation of massive stars suggests that energy feedback is relevant. We present evidence that N 159-W is forming YSOs spontaneously, while collapse in N 159-E may be triggered. Finally, we compare star formation rates determined from YSO counts with those from integrated Hα and 24 μm luminosities and expected from gas surface densities. Detailed dissection of extragalactic GMCs like the one presented here is key to revealing the physics underlying commonly used star formation scaling laws.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1206-1232
Number of pages27
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 1 2010


  • ISM: individual objects (N 159)
  • Infrared: stars
  • Magellanic Clouds
  • Stars: formation
  • Stars: pre-main sequence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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