The evolutionary tracks of young massive star clusters.
PFALZNER S., PARMENTIER G., STEINHAUSEN M., VINCKE K. and MENTEN K.
Abstract (from CDS):
Stars mostly form in groups consisting of a few dozen to several ten thousand members. For 30 years, theoretical models have provided a basic concept of how such star clusters form and develop: they originate from the gas and dust of collapsing molecular clouds. The conversion from gas to stars being incomplete, the leftover gas is expelled, leading to cluster expansion and stars becoming unbound. Observationally, a direct confirmation of this process has proved elusive, which is attributed to the diversity of the properties of forming clusters. Here we take into account that the true cluster masses and sizes are masked, initially by the surface density of the background and later by the still present unbound stars. Based on the recent observational finding that in a given star-forming region the star formation efficiency depends on the local density of the gas, we use an analytical approach combined with N-body simulations to reveal evolutionary tracks for young massive clusters covering the first 10 Myr. Just like the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram is a measure for the evolution of stars, these tracks provide equivalent information for clusters. Like stars, massive clusters form and develop faster than their lower-mass counterparts, explaining why so few massive cluster progenitors are found.
methods: analytical - methods: numerical - open clusters and associations: general - solar neighborhood - stars: formation - stars: kinematics and dynamics - stars: pre-main sequence