Hierarchical star formation in the Milky Way disk

Abstract

Hierarchical star formation leads to a progressive decrease in the clustering of star clusters both in terms of spatial scale and age. Consistently, the statistical analysis of positions and ages of clusters in the Milky Way disk strongly suggests that a correlation between the duration of star formation in a region and its size does exist. The average age difference between pairs of open clusters increases with their separation as the ∼0.16 power. In contrast and for the Large Magellanic Cloud, Efremov & Elmegreen (1998) found that the age difference scales with the ∼0.35 power of the region size. This discrepancy may be tentatively interpreted as an argument in support of intrinsically shorter (faster) star formation time-scales in smaller galaxies. However, if both the effects of cluster dissolution and incompleteness are taken into consideration, the average age difference between cluster pairs in the Galaxy increases with their separation as the ∼0.4 power. This result implies that the characteristic time-scale for coherent, clustered-mode star formation is nearly 1 Myr. Therefore, the overall consequence of ignoring the effect of cluster dissolution is to overestimate the star formation time-scale. On the other hand, in the Galactic disk and for young clusters separated by less than three times the characteristic cluster tidal radius (10 pc), the average age difference is 16 Myr, which suggests common origin. A close pair classification scheme is introduced and a list of 11 binary cluster candidates with physical separation less than 30 pc is compiled. Two of these pairs are likely primordial: ASCC 18/ASCC 21 and NGC 3293/NGC 3324. A triple cluster candidate in a highly hierarchical configuration is also identified: NGC 1981/NGC 1976/Collinder 70 in Orion. We find that binary cluster candidates seem to show a tendency to have components of different size; an evidence for dynamical interaction. Subject headings: Galaxy: disk – Galaxy: evolution – Open clusters and associations: general – Stars: formation – Methods: statistical

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Cite this paper

@inproceedings{Marcos2009HierarchicalSF, title={Hierarchical star formation in the Milky Way disk}, author={R . de la Fuente Marcos and C{\'e}sar de la Fuente}, year={2009} }