A clustered origin for isolated massive stars

William E. Lucas, Matus Rybak, Ian A. Bonnell, Mark Gieles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


High-mass stars are commonly found in stellar clusters promoting the idea that their formation occurs due to the physical processes linked with a young stellar cluster. It has recently been reported that isolated high-mass stars are present in the Large Magellanic Cloud. Due to their low velocities it has been argued that these are high-mass stars which formed without a surrounding stellar cluster. In this paper we present an alternative explanation for the origin of these stars in which they formed in a cluster environment but are subsequently dispersed into the field as their natal cluster is tidally disrupted in a merger with a higher-mass cluster. They escape the merged cluster with relatively low velocities typical of the cluster interaction and thus of the larger scale velocity dispersion, similarly to the observed stars. N-body simulations of cluster mergers predict a sizeable population of low-velocity (≤20 km s−1), high-mass stars at distances of >20 pc from the cluster. High-mass clusters in which gas poor mergers are frequent would be expected to commonly have haloes of young stars, including high-mass stars, which were actually formed in a cluster environment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3582-3592
Number of pages11
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number3
Early online date23 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018


  • Stars: formation
  • Stars: luminosity function
  • Mass function
  • Stars: massive
  • Open clusters and associations: general


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