We present near-infrared photometry and K-band spectra of newly-identified massive stars in the Quintuplet Cluster, one of the three massive clusters projected within 50 pc of the Galactic Center. We find that the cluster contains a variety of massive stars, including more unambiguously identified Wolf-Rayet stars than any cluster in the Galaxy, and over a dozen stars in earlier stages of evolution, i.e., LBV, Ofpe/WN9, and OB supergiants. One newly identified star is the second ``Luminous Blue Variable'' in the cluster, after the ``Pistol Star.'' Given the evolutionary stages of the identified stars, the cluster appears to be about 4 \pm 1 Myr old, assuming coeval formation. The total mass in observed stars is $\sim 10^3 \Msun$, and the implied mass is $\sim 10^4 \Msun$, assuming a lower mass cutoff of 1 \Msun and a Salpeter initial mass function. The implied mass density in stars is at least a few thousand $\Msun pc^{-3}$. The newly-identified stars increase the estimated ionizing flux from this cluster by about an order of magnitude with respect to earlier estimates, to 10^{50.9} photons/s, or roughly what is required to ionize the nearby ``Sickle'' HII region (G0.18 - 0.04). The total luminosity from the massive cluster stars is $\approx 10^{7.5}$ \Lsun, enough to account for the heating of the nearby molecular cloud, M0.20 - 0.033. We propose a picture which integrates most of the major features in this part of the sky, excepting the non-thermal filaments. We compare the cluster to other young massive clusters and globular clusters, finding that it is unique in stellar content and age, except, perhaps, for the young cluster in the central parsec of the Galaxy. In addition, we find that the cluster is comparable to small ``super star clusters.'' (Refer to PDF file for exact formulas.)

Publication Date



Also archived at: arXiv:astro-ph/9903281 v1 18 Mar 1999 ISSN:1538-4357 Note: imported from RIT’s Digital Media Library running on DSpace to RIT Scholar Works in February 2014.

Document Type


Department, Program, or Center

School of Physics and Astronomy (COS)


RIT – Main Campus