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Paper: Catching Dissolving Clusters: A New Approach
Volume: 388, Mass Loss from Stars and the Evolution of Stellar Clusters
Page: 379
Authors: Pellerin, A.; Meyer, M.; Harris, J.; Calzetti, D.
Abstract: Traditional studies of stellar clusters in external galaxies use surface photometry and therefore focus on systems that are still bright and compact enough to be separated from the stellar background. Consequently, the latter stages of unbound cluster evolution are still poorly understood. This dramatically constrains our knowledge of the dissolution processes of stellar clusters in various physical environments.

We present the first results of a new approach to directly detect and quantify the characteristics of evolved stellar clusters. Using the exceptional spatial resolution and sensitivity of HST/ACS images to resolve the stellar content of nearby galaxies, we construct colour-magnitude diagrams for the observed fields. This enables us to separate the younger population likely present in young clusters from the older stellar content of the star field background. We utilize a clustering algorithm to assign each star to a group based on its local spatial density. This novel approach makes use of algorithms typically applied in N-body and cosmological studies. We test the method and show that it successfully detects less compact clusters that would normally be lost in the star field background. We also detect B-type stars well spread out in the galaxy disk of NGC 1313, probably the result of infant mortality of stellar clusters.

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