The star formation history of the Sco-Cen association. Coherent star formation patterns in space and time

Sebastian Ratzenböck, Josefa E. Großschedl, João Alves, Núria Miret-Roig, Immanuel Bomze, John Forbes, Alyssa Goodman, Alvaro Hacar, Doug Lin, Stefan Meingast, Torsten Möller, Martin Piecka, Laura Posch, Alena Rottensteiner, Cameren Swiggum, Catherine Zucker

Publications: Contribution to journalArticlePeer Reviewed


We reconstruct the star formation history of the Sco-Cen OB association using a novel high-resolution age map of the region. We develop an approach to produce robust ages for Sco-Cen's recently identified 37 stellar clusters using the SigMA algorithm. The Sco-Cen star formation timeline reveals four periods of enhanced star formation activity, or bursts, remarkably separated by about 5 Myr. Of these, the second burst, which occurred about 15 million years ago, is by far the dominant, and most of Sco-Cen's stars and clusters were in place by the end of this burst. The formation of stars and clusters in Sco-Cen is correlated but not linearly, implying that more stars were formed per cluster during the peak of the star formation rate. Most of the clusters that are large enough to have supernova precursors were formed during the 15 Myr period. Star and cluster formation activity has been continuously declining since then. We have clear evidence that Sco-Cen formed from the inside out and contains 100-pc long chains of contiguous clusters exhibiting well-defined age gradients, from massive older clusters to smaller young clusters. These observables suggest an important role for feedback in forming about half of Sco-Cen stars, although follow-up work is needed to quantify this statement. Finally, we confirm that the Upper-Sco age controversy discussed in the literature during the last decades is solved: the nine clusters previously lumped together as Upper-Sco, a benchmark region for planet formation studies, exhibit a wide range of ages from 3 to 19 Myr.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAstronomy & Astrophysics
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2023

Austrian Fields of Science 2012

  • 103003 Astronomy


  • Astrophysics - Solar and Stellar Astrophysics
  • Astrophysics - Earth and Planetary Astrophysics
  • Astrophysics - Astrophysics of Galaxies


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