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Ages, Distances, and the Initial Mass Functions of Stellar Clusters

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Preprint
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arXiv ID: astro-ph/0001229
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arXiv
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Abstract

We provide a review of the current status of several topics on the ages, distances, and mass functions of open clusters, with a particular emphasis on illuminating the areas of uncertainty. Hipparcos has obtained parallaxes for nearby open clusters that have expected accuracies much better than has been previously achievable. By using the lithium depletion boundary method and isochrone fitting based on much improved new theoretical evolutionary models for low mass stars, it is arguable that we will soon have have much better age scales for clusters and star-forming regions. With improved optical and near-IR cameras, we are just now beginning to extend the mass function of open clusters like the Pleiades into the regime below the hydrogen burning mass limit. Meanwhile, observations in star-forming regions are in principle capable of identifying objects down to of order 10 Jupiter masses.

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