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Molecular clouds toward RCW49 and westerlund 2: Evidence for cluster formation triggered by cloud-cloud collision

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-17, 09:43 authored by Furukawa, N, Joanne Dawson, Ohama, A, Kawamura, A, Mizuno, N, Onishi, T, Fukui, Y
We have made CO(J = 2-1) observations toward the H ii region RCW 49 and its ionizing source, the rich stellar cluster Westerlund 2, with the NANTEN2 submillimeter telescope. These observations have revealed that two molecular clouds in velocity ranges of –11 to +9 km s–1 and 11 to 21 km s–1, respectively, show remarkably good spatial correlations with the Spitzer IRAC mid-infrared image of RCW 49, as well a velocity structures indicative of localized expansion around the bright central regions and stellar cluster. This strongly suggests that the two clouds are physically associated with RCW 49. We obtain a new kinematic distance estimate to RCW 49 and Wd2 of 5.4+1.1–1.4 kpc, based on the mean velocity and velocity spread of the associated gas. We argue that the acceleration of the gas by stellar winds from Westerlund 2 is insufficient to explain the entire observed velocity dispersion of the molecular gas, and suggest a scenario in which a collision between the two clouds ~4 Myr ago may have triggered the formation of the stellar cluster.


Publication title

The Astrophysical Journal: An International Review of Astronomy and Astronomical Physics








School of Natural Sciences


Univ Chicago Press

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1427 E 60Th St, Chicago, USA, Il, 60637-2954

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Copyright 2009 The American Astronomical Society.

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