AAS 195th Meeting, January 2000
Session 66. Young Stars and Clusters
Oral, Thursday, January 13, 2000, 2:00-3:30pm, Regency V

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[66.01] Modeling the Near-Infrared Luminosity Function of Young Stellar Clusters

A. A. Muench (UF & CfA), E. A. Lada (UF), C. J. Lada (CfA)

We present the results of numerical experiments designed to evaluate the usefulness of near-infrared luminosity functions for constraining the Initial Mass Function (IMF) of young (0-10 Myr) stellar populations. Using Monte Carlo techniques, we create a suite of model luminosity functions systematically varying each of these basic underlying relations: the underlying IMF, cluster star forming history, and theoretical pre-main sequence mass-to-luminosity relations. Our modeling techniques also allow us to explore the effects of unresolved binaries, infrared excess emission from circumstellar disks, and interstellar extinction on the cluster luminosity function. From this numerical modeling, we find that the luminosity function of a young stellar population is considerably more sensitive to variations in the underlying initial mass function than to either variations in the star forming history or assumed pre-main-sequence (PMS) mass-to-luminosity relation. To illustrate the potential effectiveness of using the KLF of a young cluster to constrain its IMF, we model the observed K band luminosity function of the nearby Trapezium cluster. Our derived mass function for the Trapezium spans two orders of magnitude in stellar mass (5\;>\;M\odot\;>\;0.02) and has a peak near the hydrogen burning limit. Below the hydrogen burning limit, the mass function steadily decreases with decreasing mass throughout the brown dwarf regime. We also test the hypothesis of a space varying IMF by performing model fits to the K band luminosity functions of several other young clusters.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: gmuench@cfa.harvard.edu

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