EDP Sciences
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Volume 404, Number 3, June IV 2003
Page(s) 913 - 926
Section Stellar clusters and associations
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20030581

A&A 404, 913-926 (2003)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20030581

Formation scenarios for the young stellar associations between galactic longitudes l $\mathsf{= 280\degr{-}360\degr}$

M. J. Sartori1, 2, J. R. D. Lépine2 and W. S. Dias2

1  Laboratório Nacional de Astrofísica/MCT, CP 21, 37500-000 Itajubá - MG, Brazil
2  Instituto de Astronomia, Geofísica e Ciências Atmosféricas, Universidade de São Paulo, CP 3386, 01060-970 São Paulo - SP, Brazil

(Received 12 November 2002 / Accepted 17 March 2003 )

We investigate the spatial distribution, the space velocities and age distribution of the pre-main sequence (PMS) stars belonging to Ophiuchus, Lupus and Chamaeleon star-forming regions (SFRs), and of the young early-type star members of the Scorpius-Centaurus OB association. These young stellar associations extend over the galactic longitude range from $280\degr$ to  $360\degr$, and are at a distance interval of around 100 and 200 pc. This study is based on a compilation of distances, proper motions and radial velocities from the literature for the kinematic properties, and of basic stellar data for the construction of Hertzsprung-Russel diagrams. Although there was no well-known OB association in Chamaeleon, the distances and the proper motions of a group of 21 B- and A-type stars, taken from the Hipparcos Catalogue, lead us to propose that they form a young association. We show that the young early-type stars of the OB associations and the PMS stars of the SFRs follow a similar spatial distribution, i.e., there is no separation between the low and the high-mass young stars. We find no difference in the kinematics nor in the ages of these two populations studied. Considering not only the stars selected by kinematic criteria but the whole sample of young early-type stars, the scattering of their proper motions is similar to that of the PMS stars and all the young stars exhibit a common direction of motion. The space velocities of the Hipparcos PMS stars of each SFR are compatible with the mean values of the OB associations. The PMS stars in each SFR span a wide range of ages (from 1 to 20 Myr). The ages of the OB subgroups are 8-10 Myr for Upper Scorpius (US), and 16-20 Myr for Upper Centaurus Lupus (UCL) and for Lower Centaurus Crux (LCC). Thus, our results do not confirm that UCL is older than the LCC association. Based on these results and the uncertainties associated with the age determination, we cannot say that there is indeed a difference in the age of the two populations. We analyze the different scenarios for the triggering of large-scale star-formation that have been proposed up to now, and argue that most probably we are observing a spiral arm that passes close to the Sun. The alignment of young stars and molecular clouds and the average velocity of the stars in the opposite direction to the Galactic rotation agree with the expected behavior of star formation in nearby spiral arms.

Key words: stars: formation -- stars: pre-main sequence -- stars: early-type -- stars: kinematics -- stars: Hertzsprung-Russell (HR) and C-M diagrams -- open clusters and associations: general

Offprint request: M. J. Sartori, marilia@lna.br

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