Unexpected work, but surprising results

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The last few weeks I spent working on a new dataset given to me by a fellow colleague at ESO. It was an unexpected offer and I was initially unsure if I should take on the extra work which is being led by someone else (given the huge amount of work I already have on my own). Anyway I decided to take it up and it turnout to produce some very exciting results!!

So putting aside all the on-going work I mentioned in the past posts in June and July, I dove straight into the new data. Of course it was spectral data – and my job was to derive the elemental abundances. I already have the tools for doing this business so it didn’t take long for me get some results…and what did I find?

The data were on stars that are around the solar neighborhood, but seems to be moving around and associated with a very young open cluster. I have mainly studied old and dispersing clusters, but this was a young cluster. My results shows that most of these separate co-moving stars match the chemical abundance patterns of the young cluster. This most likely means that the young cluster is already starting to disperse its members, and are being blended into the nearby solar neighborhood. This form of dispersion of young star clusters is given the dreadful name “infant mortality” by astronomers! The rate of infant mortality in different parts of our Galaxy and in other galaxies is an active field of research.

So now that my abundance matching has shown the presently studied cluster is likely a case of infant mortality, now it is over to the theorists of the group to do the modeling and simulate how this could happen.

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