The clustering behavior of Pre-Main-Sequence stars in NGC 346 in the Small Magellanic Cloud.
SCHMEJA S., GOULIERMIS D.A. and KLESSEN R.S.
Abstract (from CDS):
We present evidence that the star-forming region NGC 346/N66 in the Small Magellanic Cloud is the product of hierarchical star formation, probably from more than one star formation event. We investigate the spatial distribution and clustering behavior of the pre-main-sequence (PMS) stellar population in the region, using data obtained with Hubble Space Telescope's Advanced Camera for Surveys. By applying the nearest neighbor and minimum spanning tree methods on the rich sample of PMS stars previously discovered in the region, we identify 10 individual PMS clusters in the area and quantify their structures. The clusters show a wide range of morphologies from hierarchical multipeak configurations to centrally condensed clusters. However, only about 40% of the PMS stars belong to the identified clusters. The central association NGC 346 is identified as the largest stellar concentration, which cannot be resolved into subclusters. Several PMS clusters are aligned along filaments of higher stellar density pointing away from the central part of the region. The PMS density peaks in the association coincide with the peaks of [O III] and 8 µm emission. While more massive stars seem to be concentrated in the central association when considering the entire area, we find no evidence for mass segregation within the system itself.