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On the formation of trapezium-like systems

By Richard Allison and Simon Goodwin


We investigate the formation and evolution of high-order massive star multiples similar to the Trapezium in the Orion Nebula Cluster. We perform ensembles of N-body simulations of the evolution of N=1000 Orion-like clusters with initial conditions ranging from cool and clumpy to relatively smooth and relaxed. We find that trapezium-like systems are frequently formed in the first 2 Myr in initially cool and clumpy clusters and can survive for significant amounts of time in such clusters. We also find that these systems are highly dynamical entities, constantly interacting with the surrounding cluster, changing their appearance and membership regularly. The eventual decay of trapezium-like systems can even destroy the host cluster. We argue that the current state of any trapezium-like system is transient and care should be taken when analysing and drawing conclusions from a single snapshot in the life of a highly dynamic object.Comment: Accepted for publication in MNRAS. Supplementary material can be found at

Topics: Astrophysics - Astrophysics of Galaxies
Year: 2011
DOI identifier: 10.1111/j.1365-2966.2011.18849.x
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