Astronomy and Astrophysics, volume 645A, 84-84 (2021/1-1)
Extended stellar systems in the solar neighborhood. V. Discovery of coronae of nearby star clusters.
MEINGAST S., ALVES J. and ROTTENSTEINER A.
Abstract (from CDS):
We present a novel view on the morphology and dynamical state of ten prominent, nearby (≤500pc), and young (∼30-300Myr) open star clusters with Gaia DR2: α Per, Blanco 1, IC 2602, IC 2391, Messier 39, NGC 2451A, NGC 2516, NGC 2547, Platais 9, and the Pleiades. We introduce a pioneering member-identification method that is informed by cluster bulk velocities and deconvolves the spatial distribution with a mixture of Gaussians. Our approach enables inferring the true spatial distribution of the clusters by effectively filtering field star contaminants while at the same time mitigating the effect of positional errors along the line of sight. This first application of the method reveals vast stellar coronae that extend for ≥100pc and surround the cluster cores, which are comparatively tiny and compact. The coronae and cores form intertwined, coeval, and comoving extended cluster populations, each encompassing tens of thousands of cubic parsec and stretching across tens of degrees on the sky. Our analysis shows that the coronae are gravitationally unbound but largely comprise the bulk of the stellar mass of the populations. Most systems are in a highly dynamic state, showing evidence of expansion and sometimes simultaneous contraction along different spatial axes. The velocity field of the extended populations for the cluster cores appears asymmetric but is aligned along a spatial axis unique to each cluster. The overall spatial distribution and the kinematic signature of the populations are largely consistent with the differential rotation pattern of the Milky Way. This finding underlines the important role of global Galactic dynamics in the fate of stellar systems. Our results highlight the complexity of the Milky Way's open cluster population and call for a new perspective on the characterization and dynamical state of open clusters.