Volume 555, July 2013
|Number of page(s)||8|
|Section||Galactic structure, stellar clusters and populations|
|Published online||12 July 2013|
Reaction of massive clusters to gas expulsion – The cluster density dependence
Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie, Auf dem Hügel 69, 53121 Bonn, Germany
Received: 26 February 2013
Accepted: 28 May 2013
Context. The expulsion of the unconverted gas at the end of the star formation process potentially leads to the expansion of the just formed stellar cluster and membership loss. The degree of expansion and mass loss depends largely on the star formation efficiency and scales with the mass and size of the stellar group when stellar interactions can be neglected.
Aims. We investigate the circumstances in which stellar interactions between cluster members become so important that the fraction of bound stars after gas expulsion is significantly altered.
Methods. The Nbody6 code is used to simulate the cluster dynamics after gas expulsion for different star formation efficiences. Concentrating on the most massive clusters observed in the Milky Way, we test to what extent the results depend on the model, i.e. stellar mass distribution, stellar density profile etc., and the cluster parameters, such as cluster density and size.
Results. We find that stellar interactions leading to ejections are responsible for up to 20% mass loss in the most compact massive clusters in the Milky Way. Therefore, ejections are the prime mass loss process in these systems. Even in the loosely bound OB associations, stellar interactions are responsible for at least ~5% mass loss. The main reason why the importance of encounters for massive clusters has been largely overlooked is because of the often used approach of a single-mass representation instead of a realistic distribution for the stellar masses. The density dependence on the encounter-induced mass loss is shallower than expected because of the increasing importance of few-body interactions in dense clusters compared to sparse clusters where 2-body encounters dominate.
Key words: open clusters and associations: general / stars: kinematics and dynamics / stars: formation
© ESO, 2013
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