Author(s): , , ,
Institution(s): 1. Gemini Observatory North, 2. Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 3. NAOJ Chile Observatory, 4. Subaru Telescope
We present a straightforward approach to study young and highly obscured massive star clusters in ground-based MIR observations. The Kennicutt-Schmitt Law does not necessarily operate near galactic nuclei, and the universality of the cluster formation efficiency (CFE) and mass function is yet to be validated. Ground-based, mid-infrared imaging of [NeII] at 12.8 μm does not suffer from severe extinction, and it simultaneously delivers sub-arcsecond angular resolution and recovers extended emission. We mapped the nuclei of NGC 6946, IC 342, Maffei 2, and NGC 7714 in [NeII] using Subaru Telescope. We identified ~20 compact thermal sources which are likely to be young massive clusters, as well as very extended emission which is presumably associated with non-compact, field star formation. The masses of the clusters are estimated to be 104 to 105 M⊙. By comparing [NeII] fluxes of the compact sources and extended emission, we estimated the CFE to be ~ 5% to 13% in the target galaxies, while a CFE of 10% is found in other galactic environments. We will discuss the cluster physical properties, cluster formation efficiency, cluster mass function, their implications, and the followup spectroscopic work.