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Young stellar clusters are believed to inherit the spatial distribution like hierarchical structures of their natal molecular cloud during their formation. However, the change of the structures between the cloud and the young clusters is not well constrained observationally. We select the W40–Serpens South region (∼7 × 9 pc2) of the Aquila Rift as a testbed and investigate hierarchical properties of spatial distribution of young stellar objects (YSOs) in this region. We develop a minimum spanning tree (MST) based method to group stars into several levels by successively cutting down edges longer than an algorithmically determined critical value. A total of 832 YSOs are divided into 5 levels with 23 groups. For describing the hierarchical properties in a controlled way, we construct a set of synthetic source distributions at various fractal dimensions, and apply the same method to explore their group characters. By comparing the Q parameter and the surface density profiles of the observed and the synthetic data, we find that the YSO observation matches spatial patterns from multifractal dimensions. In the periphery region where the molecular clouds are more diffuse, the YSO structure is close to a fractal dimension of 2.0. While in the core regions, the fractal dimensions are close to 1.6 and 1.4 for the W40 and the Serpens South regions, respectively. Therefore, the YSOs may inherit the fractal pattern of the dense part of the molecular clouds, but such pattern dissipates slowly in several Myr.

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This article has been accepted for publication in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. ©: 2022 The Authors, Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.