The Effect of Molecular Cloud Properties on the Kinematics of Stars Formed in the Trifid Region

Michael A. Kuhn, Lynne A. Hillenbrand, Eric D. Feigelson, Ian Fowler, Konstantin V. Getman, Patrick S. Broos, Matthew S. Povich, Mariusz Gromadzki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The dynamical states of molecular clouds may affect the properties of the stars they form. In the vicinity of the Trifid Nebula (d = 1180 ± 25 pc), the main star cluster (Trifid Main) lies within an expanding section of the molecular cloud; however, ~0.°3 to the north (Trifid North), the cloud's velocity structure is more tranquil. We acquired a Chandra X-ray observation to identify pre-main-sequence stars in Trifid North, complementing a previous observation of Trifid Main. In Trifid North, we identified 51 candidate pre-main-sequence stars, of which 13 are high-confidence Trifid members based on Gaia EDR3 parallaxes and proper motions. We also reanalyzed the membership of Trifid Main and separated out multiple background stellar associations. Trifid North represents a stellar population ~10% as rich as Trifid Main that formed in a separate part of the cloud. The 1D stellar velocity dispersion in Trifid North (0.6 ± 0.2 km s-1) is 3 times lower than that in Trifid Main (1.9 ± 0.2 km s-1). Furthermore, in Trifid Main, proper motions indicate that the portion of the star cluster superimposed on the optical nebula is expanding. Expansion of the H II region around the O-star HD 164492A, and the resulting gas expulsion, can explain both the motions of the stars and gas in Trifid Main. Contrary to previous studies, we find no evidence that a cloud-cloud collision triggered star formation in the region.
Original languageEnglish
Article number46
JournalThe Astrophysical Journal
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2022


  • Astrometry
  • Giant molecular clouds
  • Star formation
  • Stellar kinematics
  • X-ray astronomy
  • 80
  • 653
  • 1569
  • 1608
  • 1810
  • Astrophysics - Astrophysics of Galaxies
  • Astrophysics - High Energy Astrophysical Phenomena
  • Astrophysics - Solar and Stellar Astrophysics


Dive into the research topics of 'The Effect of Molecular Cloud Properties on the Kinematics of Stars Formed in the Trifid Region'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this