146 research outputs found

    Quasi-binarity of massive stars in young dense clusters - the case of the ONC

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    Observations indicate that in young stellar clusters the binary fraction for massive stars is higher than for solar mass stars. For the Orion Nebula Cluster (ONC) there is a binary frequency of ~ 50% for solar-mass stars compared to 70-100% for the massive O- and B-stars. We explore the reasons for this discrepancy and come up with two possible answers: a) a primordially higher binarity of massive stars could be inherent to the star formation process or b) the primordial binary rate might be the same for solar-mass and massive stars, but the higher capture cross section of the massive stars possibly leads to the formation of additional massive binaries in the early cluster development. Here we investigate the likelihood of the latter using the ONC as an example. N-body simulations are performed to track the capture events in an ONC-like cluster. We find that whereas low-mass stars rarely form bound systems through capture, the dynamics of the massive stars - especially in the first 0.5 Myrs - is dominated by a rapid succession of ``transient binary or multiple systems''. In observations the transient nature of these systems would not be apparent, so that they would be rated as binaries. At 1-2 Myrs, the supposed age of the ONC, the ``transient'' massive systems become increasingly stable, lasting on average several 10^6 yrs. Despite the ONC being so young, the observed binary frequency for massive stars -- unlike that of solar-mass stars -- is not identical to the primordial binary frequency but is increased by at least 10-15% through dynamical interaction processes. This value might be increased to at least 20-25% by taking disc effects into account. The primordial binary frequency could well be the same for massive and solar mass stars because the observed difference can be explained by capture processes alone.Comment: 9 pages, 7 figures. accepted by A&

    Stellar interactions in dense and sparse star clusters

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    Stellar encounters potentially affect the evolution of the protoplanetary discs in the Orion Nebula Cluster (ONC). However, the role of encounters in other cluster environments is less known. We investigate the effect of the encounter-induced disc-mass loss in different cluster environments. Starting from an ONC-like cluster we vary the cluster size and density to determine the correlation of collision time scale and disc-mass loss. We use the NBODY6++ code to model the dynamics of these clusters and analyze the effect of star-disc encounters. We find that the disc-mass loss depends strongly on the cluster density but remains rather unaffected by the size of the stellar population. The essential outcome of the simulations are: i) Even in clusters four times sparser than the ONC the effect of encounters is still apparent. ii) The density of the ONC itself marks a threshold: in less dense and less massive clusters it is the massive stars that dominate the encounter-induced disc-mass loss whereas in denser and more massive clusters the low-mass stars play the major role for the disc mass removal. It seems that in the central regions of young dense star clusters -- the common sites of star formation -- stellar encounters do affect the evolution of the protoplanetary discs. With higher cluster density low-mass stars become more heavily involved in this process. This finding allows for the extrapolation towards extreme stellar systems: in case of the Arches cluster one would expect stellar encounters to destroy the discs of most of the low- and high-mass stars in several hundred thousand years, whereas intermediate mass stars are able to retain to some extant their discs even under these harsh environmental conditions.Comment: accepted by Astronomy and Astrophysic

    Modes of clustered star formation

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    The realization that most stars form in clusters, raises the question of whether star/planet formation are influenced by the cluster environment. The stellar density in the most prevalent clusters is the key factor here. Whether dominant modes of clustered star formation exist is a fundamental question. Using near-neighbour searches in young clusters Bressert et al. (2010) claim this not to be the case and conclude that star formation is continuous from isolated to densely clustered. We investigate under which conditions near-neighbour searches can distinguish between different modes of clustered star formation. Near-neighbour searches are performed for model star clusters investigating the influence of the combination of different cluster modes, observational biases, and types of diagnostic and find that the cluster density profile, the relative sample sizes, limitations in observations and the choice of diagnostic method decides whether modelled modes of clustered star formation are detected. For centrally concentrated density distributions spanning a wide density range (King profiles) separate cluster modes are only detectable if the mean density of the individual clusters differs by at least a factor of ~65. Introducing a central cut-off can lead to underestimating the mean density by more than a factor of ten. The environmental effect on star and planet formation is underestimated for half of the population in dense systems. A analysis of a sample of cluster environments involves effects of superposition that suppress characteristic features and promotes erroneous conclusions. While multiple peaks in the distribution of the local surface density imply the existence of different modes, the reverse conclusion is not possible. Equally, a smooth distribution is not a proof of continuous star formation, because such a shape can easily hide modes of clustered star formation (abridged)Comment: 9 pages, 6 figures, accepted by A&

    Gravitational Instabilities induced by Cluster Environment? - The encounter-induced angular momentum transfer in discs

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    AIM:The aim of this work is to understand to what extend gravitational interactions between the stars in high-density young stellar clusters, like the Orion Nebula Cluster (ONC), change the angular momentum in their protoplanetary discs. METHOD:Two types of simulations were combined -- N-body simulations of the dynamics of the stars in the ONC, and angular momentum loss results from simulations of star-disc encounters. RESULTS:It is shown that in a star-disc encounter the angular momentum loss is usually larger than the mass loss, so that the disc remnant has a lower specific angular momentum. Assuming an age of 1-2 Myr for the ONC, the disc angular momentum in the higher density region of the Trapezium is reduced by 15-20% on average. Encounters therefore play an important part in the angular momentum transport in these central regions but are not the dominant process. More importantly, even in the outer cluster regions the angular momentum loss is on average 3-5%. Here it is shown that a 3-5% loss in angular momentum might be enough to trigger gravitational instabilities even in low-mass discs - a possible prerequisite for the formation of planetary systems.Comment: 9 pages, 8 figures, accepted by A&

    Cluster-assisted accretion for massive stars

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    Gravitational interactions in very young high-density stellar clusters can to some degree change the angular momentum in the circumstellar discs surrounding initially the majority of stars. However, for most stars the cluster environment alters the angular momentum only slightly. For example, in simulations of the Orion Nebula cluster (ONC) encounters reduce the angular momentum of the discs on average at most by 3-5% and in the higher density region of the Trapezium %where encounters are more likely, the disc angular momentum is on average lowered by 15-20% - still a minor loss process. However, in this paper it is demonstrated that the situation is very different if one considers high-mass stars (M* > 10 M(solar) only. Assuming an age of 2 Myr for the ONC, their discs have on average a 50-90% lower angular momentum than primordially. This enormous loss in angular momentum in the disc should result in an equivalent increase in accretion, implying that the cluster environment boosts accretion for high-mass stars, thus %in the cluster center, making them even more massive.Comment: 10 pages including 2 figures, accepted for publication in ApJ

    How Universal are the Young Cluster Sequences? - the Cases of LMC, SMC, M83 and the Antennae

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    Aims.Recently a new analysis of cluster observations in the Milky Way found evidence that clustered star formation may work under tight constraints with respect to cluster size and density, implying the presence of just two sequences of young massive cluster. These two types of clusters each expand at different rates with cluster age. Methods. Here we investigate whether similar sequences exist in other nearby galaxies. Results:We find that while for the extragalactic young stellar clusters the overall trend in the cluster-density scaling is quite comparable to the relation obtained for Galactic clusters, there are also possible difference. For the LMC and SMC clusters the densities are below the Galactic data points and/or the core radii are smaller than those of data points with comparable density. For M83 and the Antenna clusters the core radii are possibly comparable to the Galactic clusters but it is not clear whether they exhibit similar expansion speeds. These findings should serve as an incentive to perform more systematic observations and analysis to answer the question of a possible similarity between young galactic and extragalactic star clusters sequences.Comment: 6 pages, 4 figures, A&A in pres

    Towards the field binary population: Influence of orbital decay on close binaries

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    Surveys of the binary populations in the solar neighbourhood have shown that the periods of G- and M-type stars are log-normally distributed. However, observations of young binary populations suggest a log-uniform distribution. Clearly some process(es) change the period distribution over time. Most stars form in star clusters, in which two important dynamical processes occur: i) gas-induced orbital decay of embedded binary systems and ii) destruction of soft binaries in three-body interactions. The emphasis here is on orbital decay which has been largely neglected so far. Using a combination of Monte-Carlo and dynamical nbody modelling it is demonstrated here that the cluster dynamics destroys the number of wide binaries, but leaves short-period binaries basically undisturbed even for a initially log-uniform distribution. By contrast orbital decay significantly reduces the number and changes the properties of short-period binaries, but leaves wide binaries largely uneffected. Until now it was unclear whether the short period distribution of the field is unaltered since its formation. It is shown here, that orbital decay is a prime candidate for such a task. In combination the dynamics of these two processes, convert an initial log-uniform distribution to a log-normal period distribution. The probability is 94% that the evolved and observed period distribution were sampled from the same parent distribution. This means binaries can be formed with periods that are sampled from the log-uniform distribution. As the cluster evolves, short-period binaries are merged to single stars by the gas-induced orbital decay while the dynamical evolution in the cluster destroys wide binaries. The combination of these two equally important processes reshapes a initial log-uniform period distribution to the log-normal period distribution, that is observed in the field (abridged).Comment: 9 pages, 9 figure

    Ionization of clusters in intense laser pulses through collective electron dynamics

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    The motion of electrons and ions in medium-sized rare gas clusters (1000 atoms) exposed to intense laser pulses is studied microscopically by means of classical molecular dynamics using a hierarchical tree code. Pulse parameters for optimum ionization are found to be wavelength dependent. This resonant behavior is traced back to a collective electron oscillation inside the charged cluster. It is shown that this dynamics can be well described by a driven and damped harmonic oscillator allowing for a clear discrimination against other energy absorption mechanisms.Comment: 4 pages (4 figures
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