|dc.description.abstract||Massive OB stars are very influential objects in the ecology of galaxies like our own. Current catalogues of Galactic OB stars are heavily biased towards bright (g < 13) objects, only typically including fainter objects when found in prominent star clusters (Garmany et al., 1982; Reed, 2003; Ma´ız-Apell´aniz et al., 2004). Exploitation of the VST Photometric Hα Survey (VPHAS+)
allows us to build a robust catalogue of photometrically-selected OB stars across the entire Southern Galactic plane, both within clusters and in the field, down to ∼20th magnitude in g. For the first time, a
complete accounting of the OB star runaway phenomenon becomes possible.
Along with making the primary selection using VPHAS+ colours, I have performed Markov-Chain Monte Carlo fitting of the spectral energy distributions of the selected stars by combining VPHAS+ u, g, r, i with published J, H, K photometry. This gives rough constraints on effective temperature and distance, whilst delivering much more precise reddening parameters A0 and RV - allowing us to build a much richer picture of how extinction and extinction laws vary across the Galactic Plane.
My thesis begins with a description of the method of photometric selection of OB star candidates and its validation across a 2 square degree field including the well- known young massive star
cluster Westerlund 2 (Mohr-Smith et al., 2015)1. Following on from this I present spectroscopy with AAOmega of 283 candidates identified by our method, which confirms that ∼ 94% of the sample are the expected O and early B stars. I then develop this method further and apply it to a Galactic Plane strip of 42 square-degrees that runs from the Carina Arm tangent region to the much studied massive cluster in NGC 3603. A new aspect I attend to in this expansion of method is tightening up the uniform photometric calibration of the data, paying particular attention to the always-challenging u band.
This leads to a new and reliable catalogue of 5915 OB stars.
As well as increasing the numbers of identified massive stars in this large region of the sky by nearly an order of magnitude, a more complete picture of massive star formation in the Carina Arm
has emerged. I have found a broad over-density of O stars around the highly luminous cluster NGC 3603 and have uncovered two new candidate OB clusters/associations. I have also paired up the
ionization sources of a number of HII regions catalogued by the RMS survey. It is also shown that the OB star scale- height can serve as a roughly standard ruler, leading to the result that the OB
star layer shows the onset of warping at RG ∼ 10kpc. My results confirm that this entire region requires a non-standard (3.5 < RV < 4.0) reddening law for distances greater than ∼2kpc.
The methods developed in this study are ready to roll out across the rest of the VPHAS+ footprint that has been observed to date. This extension will take in a strip ∼ ±2 degrees across the entire Southern Galactic mid-plane (a sky area of over 700 square degrees), within which we expect to find the majority of massive OB stars. This will result in the largest catalogue of Galactic OB stars to date.||en_US