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On the Dynamics of Open Clusters

  • V. A. Ambartsumian

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It has already been pointed out in the literature that due to several causes, open star clusters dissipate with time. For instance, Rosseland showed that when external stars move through a cluster, they cause a perturbation of the motion of the stars in the cluster and could transfer enough momentum to individual stars to cause their escape from the cluster's gravitational field. In this way the cluster will lose stars gradually, i.e., it will dissipate. According to Rosseland the time needed for the star cluster to dissipate following the outlined mechanism is 1010 years. However, as pointed out by the author of this article in the supplement to the Russian edition of Rosseland's book, there is another factor that makes the life of the open cluster even shorter: the stars in the cluster have close encounters with each other, as a result of which they exchange kinetic energy and gradually tend towards the most probable distribution, i.e., a Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution. And this, as we shall see shortly, also causes the dissipation of the cluster.

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On the Dynamics of Open Clusters

  • V. A. Ambartsumian

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