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Astronomy and Astrophysics

Early-type stars in the core of the young open cluster Westerlund 2+

G. Rauw1,*, J. Manfroid1,**, E. Gosset1,*, Y. Nazé1,***, H. Sana2,1, M. De Becker1, C. Foellmi3,2 and A.F.J. Moffat4,

1 Institut d'Astrophysique et de Géophysique - Université de Liège, Allée du 6 Août, Bât B5c, B-4000 Liège (Sart Tilman), Belgium
2 European Southern Observatory, Alonso de Cordova 3107, 19 Vitacura, Santiago, Chile
3 Observatoire de Grenoble, 414, Rue de la Piscine, BP 53, 38041 Grenoble, France
4 Département de Physique, Université de Montréal, QC, H3C 3J7, and Observatoire du Mont Mégantic, Canada

* Research Associate FNRS, Belgium
** Research Director FNRS, Belgium
*** Postdoctoral Researcher FNRS, Belgium

+ Based on observations collected at the Cerro Tololo Interamerican Observatory and at the European Southern Observatory (La Silla, Chile).


     Aims. The properties of the early-type stars in the core of the Westerlund2 cluster are examined in order to establish a link between the cluster and the very massive Wolf-Rayet binary WR20a as well as the HII complex RCW49.
Methods. Photometric monitoring as well as spectroscopic observations of Westerlund2 are used to search for light variability and to establish the spectral types of the early-type stars in the cluster core.
Results. The first light curves of the eclipsing binary WR20a in B and V filters are analysed and a distance of 8kpc is inferred. Three additional eclipsing binaries, which are probable late O or early B-type cluster members, are discovered, but none of the known early O-type stars in the cluster displays significant photometric variability above 1% at the 1-sigma level. The twelve brightest O-type stars are found to have spectral types between O3 and O6.5, significantly earlier than previously thought.
Conclusions. The distance of the early-type stars in Westerlund2 is established to be in excellent agreement with the distance of WR20a, indicating that WR20a actually belongs to the cluster. Our best estimate of the cluster distance thus amounts to 8.0pm1.4kpc. Despite the earlier spectral types, the currently known population of early-type stars in Westerlund2 does not provide enough ionizing photons to account for the radio emission of the RCW49 complex. This suggests that there might still exist a number of embedded early O-stars in RCW49.

Key words
Open clusters and associations: individual: Westerlund 2 -- Stars: early-type binaries: eclipsing -- Stars: fundamental parameters -- Stars: individual: WR20a

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