Clustered Star Formation in the Center of NGC 253 Contributes to Driving the Ionized Nuclear Wind

E. A.C. Mills, M. Gorski, K. L. Emig, A. D. Bolatto, R. C. Levy, A. K. Leroy, A. Ginsburg, J. D. Henshaw, L. K. Zschaechner, S. Veilleux, K. Tanaka, D. S. Meier, F. Walter, N. Krieger, J. Ott

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7 Citations (Scopus)


We present new 3 mm observations of the ionized gas toward the nuclear starburst in the nearby (D ∼ 3.5 Mpc) galaxy NGC 253. With ALMA, we detect emission from the H40α and He40α lines in the central 200 pc of this galaxy on spatial scales of ∼4 pc. The recombination line emission primarily originates from a population of approximately a dozen embedded super star clusters in the early stages of formation. We find that emission from these clusters is characterized by electron temperatures ranging from 7000 to 10,000 K and measures an average singly ionized helium abundance Y + = 0.25 0.06, both of which are consistent with values measured for H ii regions in the center of the Milky Way. We also report the discovery of unusually broad line width recombination line emission originating from seven of the embedded clusters. We suggest that these clusters contribute to the launching of the large-scale hot wind observed to emanate from the central starburst. Finally, we use the measured recombination line fluxes to improve the characterization of overall embedded cluster properties, including the distribution of cluster masses and the fractional contribution of the clustered star formation to the total starburst, which we estimate is at least 50%.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Oct 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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