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Paper: NGC2362: The Terminus of Star Formation
Volume: 5, Handbook of Star Forming Regions:
Volume II, The Southern Sky
Page: 26
Authors: Dahm, S.E.
Abstract: NGC 2362 is a richly populated Galactic cluster, devoid of natal molecular gas and dust. The cluster represents the final product of the star forming process and hosts an unobscured and near-complete initial mass function. NGC 2362 is dominated by the O9 Ib multiple star, τ CMa, as well as several dozen unevolved B-type stars. Distributed throughout the cluster are several hundred suspected intermediate and low-mass pre-main sequence members. Various post-main sequence evolutionary models have been used to infer an age of ∼5 Myr for the one evolved member, τ CMa. These estimates are in close agreement with the ages derived by fitting premain sequence isochrones to the contracting, low-mass stellar population of the cluster. The extremely narrow sequence of stars, which extends more than 9 mag in the optical color-magnitude diagram, suggests that star formation within the cluster occurred rapidly and coevally across the full mass spectrum. Ground-based near infrared and Hα emission surveys of NGC 2362 concluded that most (∼90%) of the low-mass members have already dissipated their optically-thick, inner (≪1 AU) circumstellar disks. Spitzer IRAC observations of the cluster have confirmed these results, placing an upper limit on the primordial, optically thick disk fraction of the cluster at ∼7±2%. The presence of circumstellar disks among candidate members of NGC 2362 is also strongly massdependent, such that no stars more massive than ∼1.2 M exhibit significant infrared excess shortward of 8 μm. NGC 2362 will likely remain a favored target of groundbased and space-based observations. Its well-defined upper main sequence, large population of low-mass, pre-main sequence stars, and the narrow age spread evident in the color-magnitude diagram ensure its role as a standard model of cluster as well as stellar evolution.
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