SCYON Abstract

Received on January 4 2001

The Formation of a Bound Star Cluster:
From the Orion Nebula Cluster to the Pleiades

AuthorsPavel Kroupa 1, Sverre Aarseth 2 and Jarrod Hurley 2
Affiliation1 University of Kiel,
2 University of Cambridge
Accepted byMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Links Orion Nebula Cluster / Pleiades Cluster


Direct N-body calculations are presented of the formation of Galactic clusters using GasEx, which is a variant of the code Nbody6. The calculations focus on the possible evolution of the Orion Nebula Cluster (ONC) by assuming that the embedded OB stars explosively drove out 2/3 of its mass in the form of gas about 0.4 Myr ago. A bound cluster forms readily and survives for 150 Myr despite additional mass loss from the large number of massive stars, and the Galactic tidal field. This is the very first time that cluster formation is obtained under such realistic conditions. The cluster contains about 1/3 of the initial 104 stars, and resembles the Pleiades Cluster to a remarkable degree, implying that an ONC-like cluster may have been a precursor of the Pleiades. This scenario predicts the present expansion velocity of the ONC, which will be measurable by upcoming astrometric space missions (DIVA and GAIA). These missions should also detect the original Pleiades members as an associated expanding young Galactic-field sub-population. The results arrived at here suggest that Galactic clusters form as the nuclei of expanding OB associations.

The results have wide implications, also for the formation of globular clusters and the Galactic field and halo stellar populations. In view of this, the distribution of binary orbital periods and the mass function within and outside the model ONC and Pleiades is quantified, finding consistency with observational constraints. Advanced mass segregation is evident in one of the ONC models. The calculations show that the primordial binary population of both clusters could have been much the same as is observed in the Taurus--Auriga star forming region. The computations also demonstrate that the binary proportion of brown dwarfs is depleted significantly for all periods, whereas massive stars attain a high binary fraction.