The early evolution of star clusters in the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) has been the subject of significant recent controversy, particularly regarding the importance and length of the earliest, largely mass-independent disruption phase (referred to as 'infant mortality'). Here, we take a fresh approach to the problem, using an independent, homogeneous data set of UBVR imaging observations, from which we obtain the SMC's cluster age and mass distributions in a self-consistent manner. We conclude that the (optically selected) SMC star cluster population has undergone at most ∼30 per cent (1σ) infant mortality between the age range from about (3-10) Myr, to that of approximately (40-160) Myr. We rule out a 90 per cent cluster mortality rate per decade of age (for the full age range up to 109 yr) at a >6σ level. We independently affirm this scenario based on the age distribution of the SMC cluster sample.
- stellar dynamics
- globular clusters: general
- open clusters and associations: general
- Magellanic Clouds
- galaxies: star clusters