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Centro de Astrofísica da Universidade do Porto

The youngest stellar clusters
Clusters associated with massive protostellar candidates

M. S. N. Kumar, E. Keto, E. Clerkin

Abstract
We report on the identification of 54 embedded clusters around 217 massive protostellar candidates of which 34 clusters are new detections. The embedded clusters are identified as stellar surface density enhancements in the 2 μm All Sky Survey (2MASS) data. Because the clusters are all associated with massive stars in their earliest evolutionary stage, the clusters should also be in an early stage of evolution. Thus the properties of these clusters should reflect properties associated with their formation rather than their evolution. For each cluster, we estimate the mass, the morphological type, the photometry and extinction. The clusters in our study, by their association with massive protostars and massive outflows, reinstate the notion that massive stars begin to form after the first generation of low mass stars have completed their accretion phase. Further, the observed high gas densities and accretion rates at the centers of these clusters is consistent with the hypothesis that high mass stars form by continuing accretion onto low mass stars.

Astronomy and Astrophysics
Volume 449, Page 1033
June 2006

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Institute of Astrophysics and Space Sciences (IA) is a new but long anticipated research infrastructure with a national dimension. It embodies a bold but feasible vision for the development of Astronomy, Astrophysics and Space Sciences in Portugal, taking full advantage and fully realizing the potential created by the national membership of the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Southern Observatory (ESO). IA resulted from the merging the two most prominent research units in the field in Portugal: the Centre for Astrophysics of the University of Porto (CAUP) and the Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics of the University of Lisbon (CAAUL). It currently hosts more than two-thirds of all active researchers working in Space Sciences in Portugal, and is responsible for an even greater fraction of the national productivity in international ISI journals in the area of Space Sciences. This is the scientific area with the highest relative impact factor (1.65 times above the international average) and the field with the highest average number of citations per article for Portugal.

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