Journal Article

Using rotation rates to probe age spreads in the Orion Nebula Cluster

R. D. Jeffries

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 381, issue 3, pages 1169-1178
Published in print November 2007 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online October 2007 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
Using rotation rates to probe age spreads in the Orion Nebula Cluster

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The radii of young pre‐main‐sequence (PMS) stars in the Orion Nebula Cluster (ONC) have been estimated using their rotation periods and projected equatorial velocities. Stars at a given effective temperature have a spread in their geometrically estimated projected radii, that is larger than can be accounted for with a coeval model, observational uncertainties and randomly oriented rotation axes. It is shown that the required dispersion in radius (a factor of 2–3 full width at half‐maximum) can be modelled in terms of a spread in stellar ages larger than the median age of the cluster, although the detailed star formation history cannot be uniquely determined using present data. This technique is relatively free from systematic uncertainties (binarity, extinction, variability, distance) that have hampered previous studies of the ONC star formation history using the conventional Hertzsprung–Russell diagram. However, the current ONC rotational data are biased against low‐luminosity objects, so the deduced dispersions in radius and inferred age are probably underestimates. In particular, the ages of a tail of PMS stars that appear to be ≥10Myr old in the Hertzsprung–Russell diagram cannot be verified with present data. If projected equatorial velocities were measured for these objects it could easily be checked whether their radii are correspondingly smaller than the bulk of the ONC population.

Keywords: methods: statistical; stars: formation; open clusters and associations: M42

Journal Article.  6885 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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