Open Cluster

Monday, January 26, 2009

An open cluster is a group of up to a few thousand stars that were formed from the same giant molecular cloud, and are still loosely gravitationally bound to each other. Open clusters have been found only in spiral and irregular galaxies, in which active star formation is occurring. They are usually less than a few hundred million years old: they become disrupted by close encounters with other clusters and clouds of gas as they orbit the galactic center, as well as losing cluster members through internal close encounters.