SCYON Abstract

Received on: 15 04 2024

Outward Migration in Nascent Stellar Groups

Authors:S. W. Stahler 1
Affiliations:(1) Berkeley Astronomy Dept., University of California, Berkeley, USA
Accepted by: Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

As a stellar group forms within its parent molecular cloud, new members first appear in the deep interior. These overcrowded stars continually diffuse outward to the cloud boundary, and even beyond. Observations have so far documented only the interior drift. Those stars that actually leave the cloud form an expanding envelope that I call the "stellar mantle." Simple fluid models for the cloud and mantle illustrate their basic structure. The mantle's expansion speed is subsonic with respect to the cloud's dynamical temperature. I describe, in qualitative terms, how the expanding mantle and Galactic tidal radius might together shape the evolution of specific types of stellar groups. The massive stars in OB associations form in clouds that contract before extruding a substantial mantle. In contrast, the more slowly evolving clouds forming open clusters and T associations have extended mantles that encounter a shrinking tidal radius. These clouds are dispersed by internal stellar outflows. If the remaining group of stars is gravitationally bound, it appears as a long-lived open cluster, truncated by the tidal radius. If the group is unbound, it is a late-stage T association that will soon be torn apart by the tidal force. The "distributed" populations of pre-main~sequence stars observed in the outskirts of several star-forming regions are too distant to be stellar mantles. Rather, they could be the remnants of especially low-mass T associations.

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