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Formation of Star Clusters

  • Richard B. Larson
Part of the Astrophysics and Space Science Library book series (ASSL, volume 162)

Abstract

Star clusters are the smallest systems in which the processes that generate a spectrum of stellar masses can be studied, and they may be of particular interest as the birth sites of the most massive stars. Observations suggest that bound clusters form in the densest core regions of giant molecular clouds, the best studied example being the Trapezium cluster in Orion. The efficiency with which giant molecular clouds form bound star clusters is estimated to be approximately 2 × 10−3, about one-tenth of the overall efficiency of star formation. The high local efficiency of star formation that is necessary to form a bound cluster, as well as the apparent preferential formation of massive stars in such environments, may result from protostellar interactions like tidal effects that cause enhanced accretion from residual circumstellar disks onto forming stars. Another effect of interactions may be the formation of binary systems by captures resulting from the gravitational drag produced by protostellar disks; this mechanism might account for a significant fraction of binaries, and for the observed distribution of mass ratios in binaries. Similar gravitational drag effects acting on larger scales may account for the formation of highly condensed clusters of stars with central subgroups of massive stars.

Keywords

Star Formation Massive Star Open Cluster Globular Cluster Molecular Cloud 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard B. Larson
    • 1
  1. 1.Yale Astronomy DepartmentNew HavenUSA

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