Quantifying the Universality of the Stellar Initial Mass Function in Old Star Clusters

Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (Impact Factor: 5.23). 02/2012; DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2966.2012.20735.x
Source: arXiv

ABSTRACT We present a new technique to quantify cluster-to-cluster variations in the
observed present-day stellar mass functions of a large sample of star clusters.
Our method quantifies these differences as a function of both the stellar mass
and the total cluster mass, and offers the advantage that it is insensitive to
the precise functional form of the mass function. We applied our technique to
data taken from the ACS Survey for Globular Clusters, from which we obtained
completeness-corrected stellar mass functions in the mass range 0.25-0.75
M$_{\odot}$ for a sample of 27 clusters. The results of our observational
analysis were then compared to Monte Carlo simulations for globular cluster
evolution spanning a range of initial mass functions, total numbers of stars,
concentrations, and virial radii.
We show that the present-day mass functions of the clusters in our sample can
be reproduced by assuming an universal initial mass function for all clusters,
and that the cluster-to-cluster differences are consistent with what is
expected from two-body relaxation. A more complete exploration of the initial
cluster conditions will be needed in future studies to better constrain the
precise functional form of the initial mass function. This study is a first
step toward using our technique to constrain the dynamical histories of a large
sample of old Galactic star clusters and, by extension, star formation in the
early Universe.

  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: (abridged) In this paper, we constrain the properties of primordial binary populations in Galactic globular clusters using the MOCCA Monte Carlo code for cluster evolution. Our results are compared to the observations of Milone et al. (2012) using the photometric binary populations as proxies for the true underlying distributions, in order to test the hypothesis that the data are consistent with an universal initial binary fraction near unity and the binary orbital parameter distributions of Kroupa (1995). With the exception of a few possible outliers, we find that the data are to first-order consistent with the universality hypothesis. Specifically, the present-day binary fractions inside the half-mass radius r$_{\rm h}$ can be reproduced assuming either high initial binary fractions near unity with a dominant soft binary component as in the Kroupa distribution combined with high initial densities (10$^4$-10$^6$ M$_{\odot}$ pc$^{-3}$), or low initial binary fractions ($\sim$ 5-10%) with a dominant hard binary component combined with moderate initial densities near their present-day values (10$^2$-10$^3$ M$_{\odot}$ pc$^{-3}$). This apparent degeneracy can be broken using the binary fractions outside r$_{\rm h}$- only high initial binary fractions with a significant soft component combined with high initial densities can contribute to reproducing the observed anti-correlation between the binary fractions outside r$_{\rm h}$ and the total cluster mass. We further illustrate using the simulated present-day binary orbital parameter distributions and the technique introduced in Leigh et al. (2012) that the relative fractions of hard and soft binaries can be used to further constrain the initial cluster density and mass-density relation. Our results favour an initial mass-density relation of the form r$_{\rm h} \propto$ M$_{\rm clus}^{\alpha}$ with $\alpha <$ 1/3.
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 10/2014; 446(1). DOI:10.1093/mnras/stu2110 · 5.23 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Star formation lies at the center of a web of processes that drive cosmic evolution: generation of radiant energy, synthesis of elements, formation of planets, and development of life. Decades of observations have yielded a variety of empirical rules about how it operates, but at present we have no comprehensive, quantitative theory. In this review I discuss the current state of the field of star formation, focusing on three central questions: what controls the rate at which gas in a galaxy converts to stars? What determines how those stars are clustered, and what fraction of the stellar population ends up in gravitationally-bound structures? What determines the stellar initial mass function, and does it vary with star-forming environment? I use these three question as a lens to introduce the basics of star formation, beginning with a review of the observational phenomenology and the basic physical processes. I then review the status of current theories that attempt to solve each of the three problems, pointing out links between them and opportunities for theoretical and numerical work that crosses the scale between them. I conclude with a discussion of prospects for theoretical progress in the coming years.
    Physics Reports 02/2014; DOI:10.1016/j.physrep.2014.02.001 · 22.91 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: We use N-body simulations to explore the influence of orbital eccentricity on the dynamical evolution of star clusters. Specifically we compare the mass loss rate, velocity dispersion, relaxation time, and the mass function of star clusters on circular and eccentric orbits. For a given perigalactic distance, increasing orbital eccentricity slows the dynamical evolution of a cluster due to a weaker mean tidal field. However, we find that perigalactic passes and tidal heating due to an eccentric orbit can partially compensate for the decreased mean tidal field by energizing stars to higher velocities and stripping additional stars from the cluster, accelerating the relaxation process. We find that the corresponding circular orbit which best describes the evolution of a cluster on an eccentric orbit is much less than its semi-major axis or time averaged galactocentric distance. Since clusters spend the majority of their lifetimes near apogalacticon, the properties of clusters which appear very dynamically evolved for a given galactocentric distance can be explained by an eccentric orbit. Additionally we find that the evolution of the slope of the mass function within the core radius is roughly orbit-independent, so it could place additional constraints on the initial mass and initial size of globular clusters with solved orbits. We use our results to demonstrate how the orbit of Milky Way globular clusters can be constrained given standard observable parameters like galactocentric distance and the slope of the mass function. We then place constraints on the unsolved orbits of NGC 1261,NGC 6352, NGC 6496, and NGC 6304 based on their positions and mass functions.
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 04/2014; 442(2). DOI:10.1093/mnras/stu961 · 5.23 Impact Factor

Full-text (2 Sources)

Available from
Jun 1, 2014