We present the fourth in a series of papers detailing our smoothed particle hydrodynamics study of the effects of ionizing feedback from O-type stars on turbulent star-forming clouds. Here, we study the effects of photoionization on a series of initially partially unbound clouds with masses ranging from 104–106 M⊙ and initial sizes from 2.5–45pc. We find that ionizing feedback profoundly affects the structure of the gas in most of our model clouds, creating large and often well-cleared bubble structures and pillars. However, changes in the structures of the embedded clusters produced are much weaker and not well correlated to the evolution of the gas. We find that in all cases, star formation efficiencies and rates are reduced by feedback and numbers of objects increased, relative to control simulations. We find that local triggered star formation does occur and that there is a good correlation between triggered objects and pillars or bubble walls, but that triggered objects are often spatially mixed with those formed spontaneously. Some triggered objects acquire large enough masses to become ionizing sources themselves, lending support to the concept of propagating star formation. We find scant evidence for spatial age gradients in most simulations, and where we do see them, they are not a good indicator of triggering, as they apply equally to spontaneously formed objects as triggered ones. Overall, we conclude that inferring the global or local effects of feedback on stellar populations from observing a system at a single epoch is very problematic.
- stars: formation