AAS 203rd Meeting, January 2004
Session 7 Star Formation
Poster, Monday, January 5, 2004, 9:20am-6:30pm, Grand Hall

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[7.18] From the Gould's Belt to Starburst Galaxies: Deriving the IMF in Regions of Extreme Star Formation

M.R. Meyer, J. Greissl, M.A. Kenworthy (Steward Observatory, The University of Arizona)

Recent results indicate the stellar initial mass function is not a strong function of star-forming environment or "initial conditions" (e.g. Meyer et al. 2000). Some studies suggest that a universal IMF may extend to sub-stellar masses (see however Briceno et al. 2002). Yet most of these studies are confined to star-formation environments within 1 kpc of the Sun. In order to probe the universality of the IMF over a wider range of parameter space (metalicity, stellar density, galactic environment) new techniques are required. We describe the results of simulations carried out using the observed point-spread function from the new 6.5m MMT adaptive optics system (Close et al. 2003) and examine the confusion-limited sensitivity to low mass stars in Trapezium-like star clusters out to 0.5 Mpc. We also introduce a new technique to estimate the ratio of high to low mass stars in unresolved stellar populations, such as the massive star clusters observed in interacting galaxies (e.g. Mengel et al. 2002). Taking into account pre-main sequence mass luminosity relationships appropriate for clusters < 5 Myr old, between 3-30 % of the integrated K-band light should show late-type spectral features from stars < 3 Msun depending on the IMF and age of the cluster. We demonstrate the feasibility of this approach with benchmark calculations based on the integrated light of the Trapezium cluster.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 35#5
© 2003. The American Astronomical Soceity.