E. Moraux, Y. Lebreton and C. Charbonnel (eds)
EAS Publications Series, 80–81 (2016) 73-114
Open clusters and associations in the Gaia era
1 Université Grenoble Alpes, IPAG, 38000 Grenoble, France
2 CNRS, IPAG, 38000 Grenoble, France
Open clusters and associations are groups of young stars, respectively bound and unbound, that share the same origin and disperse over time into the galactic field. As such, their formation and evolution are the key to understand the origin and properties of galactic stellar populations. Moreover, since their members have about the same age, they are ideal laboratories to study the properties of young stars and constrain stellar evolution theories. In this contribution, I present our current knowledge on open clusters and associations. I focus on the methods used to derive the statistical properties (IMF, spatial distribution, IMF) of young stars and briefly discuss how they depend on the environment. I then describe how open clusters can be used as probes to investigate the structure, dynamics and chemical composition of the Milky Way. I conclude by presenting the Gaia mission and discuss how it will revolutionize this field of research.
© EAS, EDP Sciences, 2016