AAS 203rd Meeting, January 2004
Session 10 Young Star Clusters
Poster, Monday, January 5, 2004, 9:20am-6:30pm, Grand Hall

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[10.03] Towards Understanding the Origin and Evolution of Structure in Young Stellar Clusters

R. A. Gutermuth (University of Rochester), S. T. Megeath (Harvard-Smithsonian CfA), J. L. Pipher (University of Rochester), J. P. Williams (Institute for Astronomy), L. E. Allen, P. C. Myers (Harvard-Smithsonian CfA)

There is growing evidence that most stars form in clusters of 100 or more stars. By studying the stellar density and spatial configuration in these rich clusters, we can improve our understanding of the initial configuration in which these stars form and their subsequent dynamical evolution. To this end, we present a comparative analysis of three active star-forming regions, NGC 7129, GGD 12-15, IRAS 20050+2720, which range in luminosity from 260 to 1.4 x 104 L\odot. We constructed stellar density distribution maps from 2.2 \mum wide-field observations with the FLAMINGOS instrument on the 6.5 meter MMT Telescope. We measured similar peak surface densities for all three objects, which represent volume densities of a few times 105 pc-3 assuming a spherical distribution. These densities are well below the 107 to 108 pc-3 densities required by theories explaining the formation of massive stars by the collisional agglomeration of lower mass stars. For GGD 12-15 and NGC 7129, we compare the stellar density distribution with 850 \mum maps obtained with the SCUBA instrument on the JCMT. In NGC 7129 we find an anti-correlation of the stars and dust indicating that much of the parental gas and dust has been dispersed. NGC 7129 shows a lower surface density and larger size than the other two clusters, suggesting that the cluster may be expanding due to the dispersal of the gas. In contrast, for the GGD 12-15 cluster, we find the stellar surface density traces the morphology of the dust emission.

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The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: rguter@astro.pas.rochester.edu

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 35#5
© 2003. The American Astronomical Soceity.