The youngest globular clusters

Sara Beck*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


It is likely that all stars are born in clusters, but most clusters are not bound and disperse. None of the many protoclusters in our Galaxy are likely to develop into long-lived bound clusters. The super star clusters (SSCs) seen in starburst galaxies are more massive and compact and have better chances of survival. The birth and early development of SSCs takes place deep in molecular clouds, and during this crucial stage the embedded clusters are invisible to optical or UV observations but are studied via the radio-infrared supernebulae (RISN) they excite. We review observations of embedded clusters and identify RISN within 10 Mpc whose exciting clusters have ≈ 106M or more in volumes of a few pc3 and which are likely to not only survive as bound clusters, but to evolve into objects as massive and compact as Galactic globulars. These clusters are distinguished by very high star formation efficiency η, at least a factor of 10 higher than the few percent seen in the Galaxy, probably due to the violent disturbances their host galaxies have undergone. We review recent observations of the kinematics of the ionized gas in RISN showing outflows through low-density channels in the ambient molecular cloud; this may protect the cloud from feedback by the embedded H II region.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1530002
JournalInternational Journal of Modern Physics D
Issue number1
StatePublished - 7 Jan 2015


  • Cluster formation
  • Globular cluster
  • Star cluster
  • Star formation


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