Constraints on Massive Star Formation: Cygnus OB2 was always an Association

Nicholas J. Wright (1), Richard J. Parker (2), Simon P. Goodwin (3), Jeremy J. Drake (3)

1. University of Hertfordshire
2. ETH Zurich
3. University of Sheffield
4. Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory

We examine substructure and mass segregation in the massive OB association Cygnus OB2 to better understand its initial conditions. Using a well understood Chandra X-ray selected sample of young stars we find that Cyg OB2 exhibits considerable physical substructure and has no evidence for mass segregation, both indications that the association is not dynamically evolved. Combined with previous kinematical studies we conclude that Cyg OB2 is dynamically very young, and what we observe now is very close to its initial conditions: Cyg OB2 formed as a highly substructured, unbound association with a low volume density (< 100 stars/pc^3). This is inconsistent with the idea that all stars form in dense, compact clusters. The massive stars in Cyg OB2 show no evidence for having formed particularly close to one another, nor in regions of higher than average density. Since Cyg OB2 contains stars as massive as ~100 Mo this result suggests that very massive stars can be born in relatively low-density environments. This would imply that the massive stars in Cyg OB2 did not form by competitive accretion, or by mergers.

Reference: 9 pages, 3 figures, accepted for publication in MNRAS
Status: Manuscript has been accepted