Journal Article

Formation rates of star clusters in the hierarchical merging scenario

R. Smith, R. Slater, M. Fellhauer, S. Goodwin and P. Assmann

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 416, issue 1, pages 383-390
Published in print September 2011 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online August 2011 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
Formation rates of star clusters in the hierarchical merging scenario

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Stars form with a complex and highly structured distribution. For a smooth star cluster to form from these initial conditions, the star cluster must erase this substructure. We study how substructure is removed using N-body simulations that realistically handle two-body relaxation. In contrast to previous studies, we find that hierarchical cluster formation occurs chiefly as a result of scattering of stars out of clumps, and not through clump merging. Two-body relaxation, in particular within the body of a clump, can significantly increase the rate at which substructure is erased beyond that of clump merging alone. Hence the relaxation time of individual clumps is a key parameter controlling the rate at which smooth, spherical star clusters can form. The initial virial ratio of the clumps is an additional key parameter controlling the formation rate of a cluster. Reducing the initial virial ratio causes a star cluster to lose its substructure more rapidly.

Keywords: stars: formation; galaxies: star clusters: general

Journal Article.  4808 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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