The P Cygni supergiant [OMN2000] LS1 – implications for the star formation history of W51
Aims. We investigate the nature of the massive star [OMN2000] LS1 and use these results to constrain the history of star formation within the host complex W51. Methods. We utilised a combination of near-IR spectroscopy and non-LTE model atmosphere analysis to derive the physical properties of [OMN2000] LS1 , and a combination of theoretical evolutionary calculations and Monte Carlo simulations to apply limits on the star formation history of W51. Results. We find the spectrum of [OMN2000] LS1 to be consistent with that of a P Cygni supergiant. With a temperature in the range of 13.2–13.7 kK and log( ) , it is significantly cooler, less luminous, and less massive than proposed by previous authors. The presence of such a star within W51 shows that star formation has been underway for at least 3 Myr, while the formation of massive O stars is still on going. The lack of a population of evolved red supergiants within the complex shows that the rate of formation of young massive clusters at ages 9 Myr was lower than currently observed. We find no evidence of internally triggered, sequential star formation within W51, and favour the suggestion that star formation has proceeded at multiple indepedent sites within the GMC. Along with other examples, such as the G305 and Carina star-forming regions, we suggest that W51 is a Galactic analogue of the ubiquitous star cluster complexes seen in external galaxies such as M51 and NGC2403.