It is widely accepted that stars do not form in isolation but result from the fragmentation of molecular clouds, which in turn leads to star cluster formation. Over time, clusters dissolve or are destroyed by interactions with molecular clouds or tidal stripping, and their members become part of the general field population. Star clusters are thus among the basic building blocks of galaxies. In turn, star cluster populations, from young associations and open clusters to old globulars, are powerful tracers of the formation, assembly, and evolutionary history of their parent galaxies. Although their importance (e.g., in mapping out the Milky Way) had been recognised for decades, major progress in this area has only become possible in recent years, both for Galactic and extragalactic cluster populations. Star clusters are the observational foundation for stellar astrophysics and evolution, provide essential tracers of galactic structure, and are unique stellar dynamical environments. Star formation, stellar structure, stellar evolution, and stellar nucleosynthesis continue to benefit and improve tremendously from the study of these systems. Additionally, fundamental quantities such as the initial mass function can be successfully derived from modelling either the Hertzsprung-Russell diagrams or the integrated velocity structures of, respectively, resolved and unresolved clusters and cluster populations. Star cluster studies thus span the fields of Galactic and extragalactic astrophysics, while heavily affecting our detailed understanding of the process of star formation in dense environments. This report highlights science results of the last decade in the major fields covered by IAU Commission 37: Star clusters and associations. Instead of focusing on the business meeting-the out-going president presentation can be found here: Http://www.sc.eso.org/gcarraro/splinter2015.pdf-this legacy report contains highlights of the most important scientific achievements in the Commission science area, compiled by 5 well expert members.
|Number of pages||20|
|Journal||Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Aug 2015|