Journal Article

The influence of multiple stars on the high-mass stellar initial mass function and age dating of young massive star clusters

C. Weidner, P. Kroupa and T. Maschberger

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 393, issue 2, pages 663-680
Published in print February 2009 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online February 2009 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2966.2008.14258.x
The influence of multiple stars on the high-mass stellar initial mass function and age dating of young massive star clusters

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The study of young stellar populations has revealed that most stars are in binary or higher order multiple systems. In this study, the influence on the stellar initial mass function (IMF) of large quantities of unresolved multiple massive stars is investigated by taking into account the stellar evolution and photometrically determined system masses. The models, where initial masses are derived from the luminosity and colour of unresolved multiple systems, show that even under extreme circumstances (100 per cent binaries or higher order multiples), the difference between the power-law index of the mass function (MF) of all stars and the observed MF is small (≲0.1). Thus, if the observed IMF has the Salpeter index α= 2.35, then the true stellar IMF has an index not flatter than α= 2.25. Additionally, unresolved multiple systems may hide between 15 and 60 per cent of the underlying true mass of a star cluster. While already a known result, it is important to point out that the presence of a large number of unresolved binaries amongst pre-main-sequence stars induces a significant spread in the measured ages of these stars even if there is none. Also, lower mass stars in a single-age binary-rich cluster appear older than the massive stars by about 0.6 Myr.

Keywords: binaries: general; stars: early-type; stars: evolution; stars: formation; stars: luminosity function, mass function

Journal Article.  9197 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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