AAS Meeting #193 - Austin, Texas, January 1999
Session 68. Globular Clusters
Display, Friday, January 8, 1999, 9:20am-6:30pm, Exhibit Hall 1

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[68.01] Globular Cluster Formation

K.M. Ashman (University of Kansas), S.E. Zepf (Yale University)

We present preliminary results from a theoretical study of globular cluster formation. The starting point of this study is largely empirical: star-forming regions such as those found in the Milky Way do not produce globular clusters, but there is considerable evidence that more vigorous star-forming regions such as those found in starbursts and galaxy mergers do produce globular clusters (i.e. dense, bound stellar systems with inferred masses like those of Galactic globular clusters). One significant difference between these two environments is that the pressure in the ISM of starbursts and mergers is orders of magnitude higher than in the Milky Way. We consider the fate of an ordinary Giant Molecular Cloud placed in such a high-pressure environment and find that the new equilibrium properties are those expected of a protoglobular cloud. Thus if such a cloud fragments into stars with high efficiency, the resulting object will have the mass and radius of a typical globular cluster. We are in the process of studying several aspects of this scenario, including whether GMCs in spirals can survive a major merger and thus experience the high-pressure environment, whether new GMCs form during the merger, the response of clouds to shocks, the fragmentation of clouds, and the evolution of the luminosity function of clusters formed in this manner. Our long-term goal is to extend this study of cluster formation in starbursts and mergers to develop a general picture of globular cluster formation at all epochs.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: ashman@kuspy.phsx.ukans.edu

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