Intracluster age gradients in numerous young stellar clusters

K. V. Getman, E. D. Feigelson, M. A. Kuhn, M. R. Bate, P. S. Broos, G. P. Garmire

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The pace and pattern of star formation leading to rich young stellar clusters is quite uncertain. In this context, we analyse the spatial distribution of ages within 19 young (median t ≲ 3 Myr on the Siess et al. time-scale), morphologically simple, isolated, and relatively rich stellar clusters. Our analysis is based on young stellar object (YSO) samples from the Massive Young Star-Forming Complex Study in Infrared and X-ray and Star Formation in Nearby Clouds surveys, and a new estimator of pre-main sequence (PMS) stellar ages, AgeJX, derived from X-ray and near-infrared photometric data. Median cluster ages are computed within four annular subregions of the clusters. We confirm and extend the earlier result of Getman et al. (2014): 80 per cent of the clusters show age trends where stars in cluster cores are younger than in outer regions. Our cluster stacking analyses establish the existence of an age gradient to high statistical significance in several ways. Time-scales vary with the choice of PMS evolutionary model; the inferred median age gradient across the studied clusters ranges from 0.75 to 1.5 Myr pc-1. The empirical finding reported in the present study - late or continuing formation of stars in the cores of star clusters with older stars dispersed in the outer regions - has a strong foundation with other observational studies and with the astrophysical models like the global hierarchical collapse model of Vázquez-Semadeni et al.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1213-1223
Number of pages11
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018


  • stars: early-type
  • stars: formation
  • stars: pre-main sequence
  • open clusters and associations: general
  • infrared: stars
  • X-rays: stars
  • Astrophysics - Astrophysics of Galaxies
  • Astrophysics - Solar and Stellar Astrophysics


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