The VMC Survey. XXIX. Turbulence-controlled hierarchical star formation in the Small Magellanic Cloud

Ning Chen Sun, Richard De Grijs, Maria-Rosa L. Cioni, Stefano Rubele, Smitha Subramanian, Jacco Th van Loon, Kenji Bekki, Cameron P.M. Bell, Valentin D. Ivanov, Marcella Marconi, Tatiana Muraveva, Joana M. Oliveira, Vincenzo Ripepi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Citations (Scopus)
6 Downloads (Pure)


In this paper we report a clustering analysis of upper main-sequence stars in the Small Magellanic Cloud, using data from the VMC survey (the VISTA near-infrared YJK s survey of the Magellanic system). Young stellar structures are identified as surface overdensities on a range of significance levels. They are found to be organized in a hierarchical pattern, such that larger structures at lower significance levels contain smaller ones at higher significance levels. They have very irregular morphologies, with a perimeter-area dimension of 1.44 ± 0.02 for their projected boundaries. They have a power-law mass-size relation, power-law size/mass distributions, and a log-normal surface density distribution. We derive a projected fractal dimension of 1.48 ± 0.03 from the mass-size relation, or of 1.4 ± 0.1 from the size distribution, reflecting significant lumpiness of the young stellar structures. These properties are remarkably similar to those of a turbulent interstellar medium, supporting a scenario of hierarchical star formation regulated by supersonic turbulence.

Original languageEnglish
Article number31
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 3 May 2018

Bibliographical note

Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • galaxies: star clusters: general
  • infrared: stars
  • Magellanic Clouds
  • stars: formation

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'The VMC Survey. XXIX. Turbulence-controlled hierarchical star formation in the Small Magellanic Cloud'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this