The Astronomical Journal | VOL. 120

2MASS Observations of the Perseus, Orion A, Orion B, and Monoceros R2 Molecular Clouds

Publication Date Dec 1, 2000


We use the 2MASS Second Incremental Release Point Source Catalog to investigate the spatial distribution of young stars in the Perseus, Orion A, Orion B, and MonR2 molecular clouds. After subtracting a semiempirical model of the field star contamination from the observed star counts, stellar surface density maps are used to identify compact clusters and any stellar population found more uniformly distributed over the molecular cloud. Each cloud contains between two and seven clusters, with at least half of the cluster population found in a single, rich cluster. In addition, a distributed stellar population is inferred in the Orion A and MonR2 molecular clouds within the uncertainties of the field star subtraction with a surface density between 0.013 and 0.083 arcmin-2. Sensitivity calculations suggest, however, that the number of stars in the distributed population may be underestimated by a factor of 2 or more if stars have been forming with a Miller-Scalo IMF at a constant star formation rate for longer than 10 Myr. After considering the possible evolutionary status of the distributed population, the global star formation efficiency implied by the sum of the distributed and cluster populations ranges between 1% and 9% among the four clouds. The fraction of the total stellar population contained in clusters for the nominal extinction model ranges from ≈50% to 100% if the distributed population is relatively young (<10 Myr), to ≈25%–70% if it is relatively old (≈100 Myr). The relatively high fraction of stars contained in cl...


Spatial Distribution Of Young Stars Stellar Surface Density Maps Molecular Clouds Star Formation Rate Observed Star Counts Nearby Molecular Clouds Stellar Population Dense Clusters Rich Cluster Stellar Density Maps

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