The Nature of the Gould Belt from a Fractal Analysis of Its Stellar Population

Sánchez, N., Alfaro, E.J., Elías, F., Delgado, A.J., Cabrera-Caño, J.
The Astrophysical Journal, Volume 667, Issue 1, pp. 213-218.


The Gould Belt (GB) is a system of gas and young, bright stars distributed along a plane that is inclined with respect to the main plane of the Milky Way. Observational evidence suggests that the GB is our closest star formation complex, but its true nature and origin remain rather controversial. In this work we analyze the fractal structure of the stellar component of the GB. In order to do this, we tailor and apply an algorithm that estimates the fractal dimension in a precise and accurate way, avoiding both boundary and small-data set problems. We find that early OB stars (of spectral types earlier than B4) in the GB have a fractal dimension very similar to that of the gas clouds in our Galaxy. On the contrary, stars in the GB of later spectral types show a larger fractal dimension, similar to that found for OB stars of both age groups in the local Galactic disk (LGD). This result seems to indicate that while the younger OB stars in the GB preserve the memory of the spatial structure of the cloud where they were born, older stars are distributed following a similar morphology as that found for the LGD stars. The possible causes for these differences are discussed.