Formation of stars and stellar clusters in galactic environment
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Star and stellar cluster formation in spiral galaxies is one of the biggest questions of astrophysics. In this thesis, I study how star formation, and the formation of stellar clusters, proceeds using SPH simulations. These simulations model a region of 400 pc and 10⁷ solar masses. Star formation is modelled through the use of sink particles which represent small groups of stars. Star formation occurs in high density regions, created by galactic spiral arm passage. The spiral shock compresses the gas and generates high density regions. Once these regions attain sufficiently high density, self-gravity becomes dominant and drives collapse and star formation. The regions fragment hierarchically, forming local small groups of stars. These fall together to form clusters, which grow through subsequent mergers and large scale gas infall. As the individual star formation occurs over large distances before forming a stellar cluster, this process can result in significant age spreads of 1-2 Myrs. One protocluster is found to fail to merge due to the large scale tidal forces from the nearby regions, and instead expands forming a dispersed population of young stars such as an OB association.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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