Abstract

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 semi-empirical 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 2 to 7 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 - 0.083 arcmin**-2. The fraction of the total stellar population contained in clusters for the nominal extinction model ranges from ~50-100% if the distributed population is relatively young ( 10 Myr, or molecular clouds are younger than typically thought if one assumes that the star formation rate has been approximately constant in time.

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