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Tim Naylor

Colour-magnitude diagrams of star forming regions

I am interested in using observations of large samples of young stars to understand planet and star formation. The primary tool I am using is the colour-magnitude diagram, and comparing such diagrams from many different associations is proving to be a powerful diagnostic of the underlying physics. For example, there is currently a hot debate as to whether star formation is a slow (~10 million years) or a rapid (~1 million year) process. The colour-magnitude diagrams indicate it is a slow process, as the stars in a given association seem to have a large range of ages. However, this spread could have other explanations, and we have investigated whether mis-identification of members or binarism and short term (~1 year) variability can explain the spread ( Burningham et al (2005a); Burningham et al 2005b). The short answer is the apparent spreads in colour-magnitude space are not caused by any of these processes, and so we are now investigating the effects of longer term differences in accretion rate. We have already found stars that can change their accretion rate drastically on timescales of ~10 years (Littlefair et al 2004) but are also investigating using rotation rate as an accretion indicator (Littlefair et al 2005).

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