SCYON Abstract

Received on September 15 2008

Evolution of stellar structure in the Small Magellanic Cloud

AuthorsM. Gieles (1), N. Bastian (2,3), and B. Ercolano (2,4)
Affiliation(1) ESO/Santiago
(2) IoA Cambridge
(3) UCL
(4) CfA
Accepted byMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society


The projected distribution of stars in the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) from the Magellanic Clouds Photometric Survey is analysed. Stars of different ages are selected via criteria based on V magnitude and V-I colour, and the degree of `grouping' as a function of age is studied. We quantify the degree of structure using the two-point correlation function and a method based on the Minimum Spanning Tree and find that the overall structure of the SMC is evolving from a high degree of sub-structure at young ages (~10 Myr) to a smooth radial density profile. This transition is gradual and at ~75 Myr the distribution is statistically indistinguishable from the background SMC distribution. This time-scale corresponds to approximately the dynamical crossing time of stars in the SMC. The spatial positions of the star clusters in the SMC show a similar evolution of spatial distribution with age. Our analysis suggests that stars form with a high degree of (fractal) sub-structure, probably imprinted by the turbulent nature of the gas from which they form, which is erased by random motions in the galactic potential on a time-scale of a galactic crossing time.