The Dynamics, Structure, and Fate of a Young Cluster during Gas Dispersal: Hectoschelle, Chandra, Spitzer, and Gaia Observations of Cep OB3b


We present a study of the kinematics and structure of the Cep OB3b cluster based on new spectra obtained with the Hectoschelle spectrograph on the MMT and data from Spitzer, Chandr}, and Gaia. At a distance of 819+/-16 pc, Cep OB3b is one of the closest examples of a young (~3 - 5 Myr), large (~3000 total members) cluster at the late stages of gas dispersal. The cluster is broken into two sub-clusters surrounded by a lower density halo. We fit the empirical density law of King (1962) to each sub-cluster to constrain their sizes and structure. The richer eastern sub-cluster has circular symmetry, a modest central density, and lacks molecular gas toward its core suggesting it has undergone expansion due to gas dispersal. In contrast, the western sub-cluster deviates from circular symmetry, has a smaller core size, and contains significant molecular gas near its core, suggesting that it is in an earlier phase of gas dispersal. We present posterior probability distributions for the velocity dispersions from the Hectoschelle spectra. The east will continue to expand and likely form a bound cluster with ~35% of stars remaining. The west is undergoing slower gas dispersal and will potentially form a bound cluster with ~75% of stars remaining. If the halo dissipates, this will leave two independent clusters with ~300 members; proper motions suggest that the two sub-clusters are not bound to each other.

In The Astrophysical Journal, ApJ.