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Title: Ongoing Massive Star Formation in NGC 604
Authors: Juan Rafael Martínez-Galarza, Deidre Hunter, Brent Groves, Bernhard Brandl

NGC 604 is the second most massive H II region in the Local Group, thus an important laboratory for massive star formation. Using a combination of observational and analytical tools that include Spitzer spectroscopy, Herschel photometry, Chandra imaging, and Bayesian Spectral Energy Distribution fitting, we investigate the physical conditions in NGC 604, and quantify the amount of massive star formation currently taking place. We derive an average age of 4 ± 1 Myr and a total stellar mass of 1.6 (+1.6)(-1.0) x 10^5 solar masses for the entire region, in agreement with previous optical studies. Across the region we find an effect of the X-ray field on both the abundance of aromatic molecules and the [Si II] emission. Within NGC 604 we identify several individual bright infrared sources with diameters of about 15 pc and luminosity weighted masses between 10^3 solar masses and 10^4 solar masses. Their spectral properties indicate that some of these sources are embedded clusters in process of formation, which together account for ~8% of the total stellar mass in the NGC 604 system. The variations of the radiation field strength across NGC 604 are consistent with a sequential star formation scenario, with at least two bursts in the last few million years. Our results indicate that massive star formation in NGC 604 is still ongoing, likely triggered by the earlier bursts.

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NGC 604

Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/CfA/R. Tuellmann et al.; Optical: NASA/AURA/STScI

A new study unveils NGC 604, the largest region of star formation in the nearby galaxy M33, in its first deep, high-resolution view in X-rays. This composite image from Chandra X-ray Observatory data (colored blue), combined with optical light data from the Hubble Space Telescope (red and green), shows a divided neighborhood where some 200 hot, young, massive stars reside.

Throughout the cosmic metropolis, giant bubbles in the cool dust and warm gas are filled with diffuse, multi-million degree gas that emits X-rays. Scientists think these bubbles are generated and heated to X-ray temperatures when powerful stellar winds from the young massive stars collide and push aside the surrounding gas and dust. So, the vacated areas are immediately repopulated with the hotter material seen by Chandra.

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NGC 604 is an H II region inside the Triangulum Galaxy. It was discovered by William Herschel on September 11, 1784. It is one of the largest H II regions in the Local Group of galaxies; at the galaxy's estimated distance of 2.7 million light-years its longest diameter is roughly 1500 light-years (460 parsecs),

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