Merging time-scales of stellar subclumps in young star-forming regions

2012-10-24T09:21:17Z (GMT) by M. Fellhauer M. I. Wilkinson P. Kroupa
Recent observations and hydrodynamical simulations of star formation inside a giant molecular cloud have revealed that, within a star-forming region, stars do not form evenly distributed throughout this region, but rather in small subclumps. It is generally believed that these subclumps merge and form a young star cluster. The time-scale of this merging process is crucial for the evolution and the possible survival of the final star cluster. The key issue is whether this merging process happens faster than the time needed to remove the residual gas of the cloud. A merging time-scale shorter than the gas-removal time would enhance the survival chances of the resulting star cluster. In this paper, we show by means of numerical simulations that the time-scale of the merging is indeed very fast. Depending on the details of the initial subclump distribution, the merging may occur before the gas is expelled from the newly formed cluster via either supernovae or the winds from massive stars. Our simulations further show that the resulting merger objects have a higher effective star formation efficiency than the overall star-forming region and confirm the results that mass-segregated subclumps form mass-segregated merger objects.

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