Volume 455, Number 2, August IV 2006
|Page(s)||L17 - L20|
|Published online||04 August 2006|
Letter to the Editor
Clusters in the solar neighbourhood: how are they destroyed?
Astronomical Institute, Utrecht University, Princetonplein 5, 3584CC Utrecht, The Netherlands e-mail: [lamers;gieles]@astro.uu.nl
2 SRON Laboratory for Space Research, Sorbonnelaan 2, 3584CC, Utrecht, The Netherlands
Accepted: 26 June 2006
We predict the survival time of initially bound star clusters in the solar neighbourhood taking into account: (1) stellar evolution, (2) tidal stripping, (3) shocking by spiral arms and (4) encounters with giant molecular clouds. We find that the predicted dissolution time is Mi Gyr for clusters in the mass range of Mi. The resulting predicted shape of the logarithmic age distribution agrees very well with the empirical one, derived from a complete sample of clusters in the solar neighbourhood within 600 pc. The required scaling factor implies a star formation rate of 4 102 Myr-1 within 600 pc from the Sun or a surface formation rate of 3.5 10-10 yr-1 pc-2 for stars in bound clusters with an initial mass in the range of 102 to 3 104 .
Key words: Galaxy: open clusters and associations: general / Galaxy: solar neighbourhood / Galaxy: disk / Galaxy: general / Galaxies: star clusters / Galaxy: kinematics and dynamics
© ESO, 2006
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