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The Formation and Early Evolution of Young Massive Clusters

Longmore, SN, Kruijssen, JMD, Bastian, N, Bally, J, Rathborne, J, Testi, L, Stolte, A, Dale, J, Bressert, E and Alves, J (2014) The Formation and Early Evolution of Young Massive Clusters. In: Beuther, H, Klessen, RS, Cornelis, PD and Henning, T, (eds.) Protostars and Planets VI. University of Arizona Press, Tucson, pp. 291-314.

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Open Access URL: http://arxiv.org/abs/1401.4175 (Accepted version)


We review the formation and early evolution of the most massive and dense young stellar clusters, focusing on the role they can play in our understanding of star and planet formation as a whole. Young massive cluster (YMC) progenitor clouds in the Galactic Center can accumulate to a high enough density without forming stars that the initial protostellar densities are close to the final stellar density. For this to hold in the disk, the time scale to accumulate the gas to such high densities must be much shorter than the star formation timescale. Otherwise the gas begins forming stars while it is being accumulated to high density. The distinction between the formation regimes in the two environments is consistent with the predictions of environmentally-dependent density thresholds for star formation. This implies that stars in YMCs of similar total mass and radius can have formed at widely different initial protostellar densities. The fact that no systematic variations in fundamental properties are observed between YMCs in the disk and Galactic Center suggests stellar mass assembly is not strongly affected by the initial protostellar density. We review recent theoretical advances and summarize the debate on three key open questions: the initial (proto)stellar distribution, infant (im)mortality and age spreads within YMCs. We conclude: the initial protostellar distribution is likely hierarchical; YMCs likely experienced a formation history that was dominated by gas exhaustion rather than gas expulsion; YMCs are dynamically stable from a young age; and YMCs have age spreads much smaller than their mean age. Finally, we show that it is plausible that metal-rich globular clusters may have formed in a similar way to YMCs in nearby galaxies. In summary, the study of YMC formation bridges star/planet formation in the solar neighborhood to the oldest structures in the local Universe. [abridged]

Item Type: Book Section
Additional Information: Available at: http://arxiv.org/abs/1401.4175
Uncontrolled Keywords: astro-ph.GA; astro-ph.GA; astro-ph.CO
Subjects: Q Science > QB Astronomy
Divisions: Astrophysics Research Institute
Publisher: University of Arizona Press
Related URLs:
Date Deposited: 08 Jun 2016 13:30
Last Modified: 03 Sep 2021 20:49
DOI or ID number: 10.2458/azu_uapress_9780816531240-ch013
Editors: Beuther, H, Klessen, RS, Cornelis, PD and Henning, T
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/2729
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