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Star formation appears to be clumped into a hierarchy of structures, from giant molecular clouds down to individual cores and clusters, which are often hierarchical themselves, showing significant substructure. This has been demonstrated for our Galaxy through the application of sophisticated statistical methods, in particular the nearest-neighbour density and the minimum spanning tree (MST), to different star-forming regions. Here we present our analysis of clustered star formation as demonstrated through the detection of structures of young stellar populations in the dwarf star-forming galaxy NGC 6822.
We investigate the structures of embedded and open clusters using statistical methods, in particular the combined parameter , which permits to quantify the cluster structure. Star clusters build up from several subclusters evolving from a structured to a more centrally concentrated stage. The evolution is not only a function of time, but also of the mass of the objects. Massive stars are usually centrally concentrated, while lower-mass stars are more widespread, reflecting the effect of mass segregation. Using this method we find that in IC 348 and the Orion Nebula Cluster the spatial distribution of brown dwarfs does not follow the central clustering of stars, giving important clues to their formation mechanism by supporting the ejected embryo scenario.
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