SCYON Abstract

Received on January 23 2004

Optical photometry and spectral classification in the field of the open cluster NGC 6996 in the North America Nebula

AuthorsS. Villanova, G. Baume, G. Carraro, A. Geminale
Padova University
Accepted byAstronomy & Astrophysics


We present and discuss broad band CCD UBV(I)C photometry and low resolution spectroscopy for stars in the region of the open cluster NGC 6996, located in the North America Nebula. The new data allow us to tightly constrain the basic properties of this object. We revise the cluster size, which in the past has been significantly underestimated. The width of the Main Sequence is mainly interpreted in terms of differential reddening, and indeed the stars' color excess E(B-V) ranges from 0.43 to 0.65, implying the presence of a significant and evenly distributed dust component. We cross-correlate our optical photometry with near infrared from 2MASS, and by means of spectral classification we are able to build up extinction curves for an handful of bright members. We find that the reddening slope and the total to selective absorption ratio RV toward NGC 6996 are anomalous. Moreover the reddening corrected colors and magnitudes allow us to derive estimates for the cluster distance and age, which turn out to be 760 ± 70 pc (Vo-MV = 9.4 ± 0.2) and ~ 350 Myr, respectively. Basing on our results, we suggest that NGC 6996 is located in front of the North America Nebula, and does not seem to have any apparent relationship with it.