The dynamical evolution of fractal star clusters: The survival of substructure
Dept. of Physics & Astronomy, Cardiff University, 5 The Parade, Cardiff, CF24 3YB, UK
Corresponding author: S. P. Goodwin, Simon.Goodwin@astro.cf.ac.uk
Accepted: 25 September 2003
We simulate the dynamics of fractal star clusters, in order to investigate the evolution of substructure in recently formed clusters. The velocity dispersion is found to be the key parameter determining the survival of substructure. In clusters with a low initial velocity dispersion, the ensuing collapse of the cluster tends to erase substructure, although some substructure may persist beyond the collapse phase. In clusters with virial ratios of 0.5 or higher, initial density substructure survives for several crossing times, in virtually all cases. Even an initially homogeneous cluster can develop substructure, if it is born with coherent velocity dispersion. These results suggest that the simple initial conditions used for many sophisticated N-body simulations could be missing a very important and dramatic phase of star cluster evolution.
Key words: stellar dynamics / open clusters and associations: general
© ESO, 2004