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Physics  2000 

Ultraviolet and Optical Observations of OB Associations and Field Stars in the Southwest Region of the Large Magellanic Cloud

DOI: 10.1086/318765

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Using photometry from the Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope (UIT) and photometry and spectroscopy from three ground-based optical datasets we have analyzed the stellar content of OB associations and field areas in and around the regions N 79, N 81, N 83, and N 94 in the LMC. We compare data for the OB association Lucke-Hodge 2 (LH 2) to determine how strongly the initial mass function (IMF) may depend on different photometric reductions and calibrations. We also correct for the background contribution of field stars, showing the importance of correcting for field star contamination in determinations of the IMF of star formation regions. It is possible that even in the case of an universal IMF, the variability of the density of background stars could be the dominant factor creating the differences between calculated IMFs for OB associations. We have also combined the UIT data with the Magellanic Cloud Photometric Survey to study the distribution of the candidate O-type stars in the field. We find a significant fraction, roughly half, of the candidate O-type stars are found in field regions, far from any obvious OB associations. These stars are greater than 2 arcmin (30 pc) from the boundaries of existing OB associations in the region, which is a distance greater than most O-type stars with typical dispersion velocities will travel in their lifetimes. The origin of these massive field stars (either as runaways, members of low-density star-forming regions, or examples of isolated massive star formation) will have to be determined by further observations and analysis.


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