Accretion in stellar clusters and the initial mass function

Ian Alexander Bonnell, CJ Clarke, MR Bate, JE Pringle

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168 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We present a simple physical mechanism that can account for the observed stellar mass spectrum for masses M* greater than or similar to 0.5 M-.. The model depends solely on the competitive accretion that occurs in stellar clusters where each star's accretion rate depends on the local gas density and the square of the accretion radius. Zn a stellar cluster, there are two different regimes depending on whether the gas or the stars dominate the gravitational potential. When the cluster is dominated by cold gas, the accretion radius is given by a tidal-lobe radius. This occurs as the cluster collapses towards a rho proportional to R-2 distribution. Accretion in this regime results in a mass spectrum with an asymptotic Limit of gamma = -3/2 (where Salpeter is gamma = -2.35). Once the stars dominate the potential and are virialized, which occurs first in the cluster core, the accretion radius is the Bondi-Hoyle radius. The resultant mass spectrum has an asymptotic limit of gamma = -2 with slightly steeper slopes (gamma approximate to -2.5) if the stars are already mass-segregated. Simulations of accretion on to clusters containing 1000 stars show that, as expected, the low-mass stars accumulate the majority of their masses during the gas-dominated phase whereas the high-mass stars accumulate the majority of their masses during the stellar-dominated phase. This results in a mass spectrum with a relatively shallow gamma approximate to 3/2 power law for low-mass stars and a steeper power law for high-mass stars -2.5 less than or similar to gamma less than or equal to -2. This competitive accretion model also results in a mass-segregated cluster.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)pp.573-579.
Number of pages7
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Volume324
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2001

Keywords

  • accretion, accretion discs
  • stars : formation
  • stars : luminosity function, mass function
  • open clusters and associations : general
  • ORION NEBULA CLUSTER
  • STAR-FORMATION
  • ISOTHERMAL SPHERES
  • MOLECULAR CLOUDS
  • FRAGMENTATION
  • COLLAPSE
  • SYSTEMS
  • GALAXIES
  • DYNAMICS
  • IMF

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