The Spatial Structure of Young Stellar Clusters. II. Total Young Stellar Populations

Michael A. Kuhn, Konstantin V. Getman, Eric D. Feigelson

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We investigate the intrinsic stellar populations (estimated total numbers of OB and pre-main-sequence stars down to 0.1 {{M}}) that are present in 17 massive star-forming regions (MSFRs) surveyed by the MYStIX project. The study is based on the catalog of >31,000 MYStIX Probable Complex Members with both disk-bearing and disk-free populations, compensating for extinction, nebulosity, and crowding effects. Correction for observational sensitivities is made using the X-ray luminosity function and the near-infrared initial mass function—a correction that is often not made by infrared surveys of young stars. The resulting maps of the projected structure of the young stellar populations, in units of intrinsic stellar surface density, allow direct comparison between different regions. Several regions have multiple dense clumps, similar in size and density to the Orion Nebula Cluster. The highest projected density of ∼34,000 stars pc-2 is found in the core of the RCW 38 cluster. Histograms of surface density show different ranges of values in different regions, supporting the conclusion of Bressert et al. that no universal surface-density threshold can distinguish between clustered and distributed star formation. However, a large component of the young stellar population of MSFRs resides in dense environments of 200-10,000 stars pc-2 (including within the nearby Orion molecular clouds), and we find that there is no evidence for the B10 conclusion that such dense regions form an extreme “tail” of the distribution. Tables of intrinsic populations for these regions are used in our companion study of young cluster properties and evolution.
Original languageEnglish
Article number60
JournalThe Astrophysical Journal
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2015


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


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