Journal Article

Evidence for top-heavy stellar initial mass functions with increasing density and decreasing metallicity

Michael Marks, Pavel Kroupa, Jörg Dabringhausen and Marcel S. Pawlowski

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 422, issue 3, pages 2246-2254
Published in print May 2012 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online May 2012 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
Evidence for top-heavy stellar initial mass functions with increasing density and decreasing metallicity

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Residual-gas expulsion after cluster formation has recently been shown to leave an imprint in the low-mass present-day stellar mass function (PDMF) which allowed the estimation of birth conditions of some Galactic globular clusters (GCs) such as mass, radius and star formation efficiency. We show that in order to explain their characteristics (masses, radii, metallicity and PDMF) their stellar initial mass function (IMF) must have been top heavy. It is found that the IMF is required to become more top heavy the lower the cluster metallicity and the larger the pre-GC cloud-core density are. The deduced trends are in qualitative agreement with theoretical expectation. The results are consistent with estimates of the shape of the high-mass end of the IMF in the Arches cluster, Westerlund 1, R136 and NGC 3603, as well as with the IMF independently constrained for ultra-compact dwarf galaxies (UCDs). The latter suggests that GCs and UCDs might have formed along the same channel or that UCDs formed via mergers of GCs. A Fundamental Plane is found which describes the variation of the IMF with density and metallicity of the pre-GC cloud cores. The implications for the evolution of galaxies and chemical enrichment over cosmological times are expected to be major.

Keywords: stars: early-type; stars: formation; stars: late-type; stars: luminosity function, mass function; globular clusters: general

Journal Article.  7034 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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