Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc., 439, 3775-3789 (2014/April-3)
The complex distribution of recently formed stars. Bimodal stellar clustering in the star-forming region NGC 346.
GOULIERMIS D.A., HONY S. and KLESSEN R.S.
Abstract (from CDS):
We present a detailed stellar clustering analysis with the application of the two-point correlation function on distinct young stellar ensembles. Our aim is to understand how stellar systems are assembled at the earliest stages of their formation. Our object of interest is the star-forming region NGC 346 in the Small Magellanic Cloud. It is a young stellar system well revealed from its natal environment, comprising complete samples of pre-main-sequence and upper main-sequence stars, very close to their formation. We apply a comprehensive characterization of the autocorrelation function for both centrally condensed stellar clusters and self-similar stellar distributions through numerical simulations of stellar ensembles. We interpret the observed autocorrelation function of NGC 346 on the basis of these simulations. We find that it can be best explained as the combination of two distinct stellar clustering designs, a centrally concentrated, dominant at the central part of the star-forming region and an extended self-similar distribution of stars across the complete observed field. The cluster component, similar to non-truncated young star clusters, is determined to have a core radius of ∼ 2.5pc and a density profile index of ∼ 2.3. The extended fractal component is found with our simulations to have a fractal dimension of ∼ 2.3, identical to that found for the interstellar medium, in agreement to hierarchy induced by turbulence. This suggests that the stellar clustering at a time very near to birth behaves in a complex manner. It is the combined result of the star formation process regulated by turbulence and the early dynamical evolution induced by the gravitational potential of condensed stellar clusters.