AAS 207th Meeting, 8-12 January 2006
Session 21 Starbursts, LIRGS and ULIRGS
Poster, Monday, 9:20am-7:00pm, January 9, 2006, Exhibit Hall

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[21.08] VLA Radio Continuum Imaging of Radio-Infrared Supernebulae in Starburst Galaxies at 1.3 cm

C.-W. Tsai, J. L. Turner (UCLA), S. C. Beck (Tel Aviv Univ.)

We present 1''-resolution VLA K-band images of 14 nearby starburst galaxies in which we have detected compact (sub-arcsecond) and luminous mid-IR sources with LWS imaging spectrograph on Keck Observatory. Of the galaxies observed, 11 are detected with strong continuum emission at 1.3 cm. In the VLA K-band where synchrotron emission is weak and dust emission has not yet kicked in, therefore the radio continuum emission should be dominated by thermal free-free emission. The strong extended free-free emission indicates the existence of ~104 - 105 O stars living in active regions of these starburst galaxies. Our K-band maps also reveal many compact sources which are presumbly ''radio-infrared supernebulae", or RISN. These nebulae are dense, young (< 1 Myr), and require the immediate presence of thousands of young O stars within regions only a few parsecs in extent. RISN in these galaxies are excited by massive (105 - 106 MSun) super star clusters (SSCs) which may be the precursors to globular clusters.

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