The IMF in extreme star-forming environments: Searching for variations vs. initial conditions

Morten Andersen, M. R. Meyer, J. Greissl, B. D. Oppenheimer, M. A. Kenworthy, D. W. McCarthy, H. Zinnecker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Any predictive theory of star formation must explain observed variations (or lack thereof) in the initial mass function. Recent work suggests that we might expect quantitative variations in the IMF as a function of metallicity (Larson 2005) or magnetic field strength (Shu et al. 2004). We summarize results from several on-going studies attempting to constrain the ratio of high to low mass stars, as well as stars to sub- stellar objects, in a variety of different environments, all containing high mass stars. First, we examine the ratio of stars to sub-stellar objects in the nearby Mon R2 region utilizing NICMOS/HST data. We compare our results to the IMF by Kroupa (2002) and to the observed ratios for IC 348 and Orion. Second, we present preliminary results for the ratio of high to low mass stars in W51, the most luminous H II region in the galaxy. Based on ground-based multicolour images of the cluster obtained with the MMT adaptive optics system, we derive a lower limit to the ratio of high-mass to low-mass stars and compare it to the ratios for nearby clusters. Finally, we present the derived IMF for the R136 region in the LMC where the metallicity is 1/4 solar using HST/NICMOS data. We find that the IMF is consistent with that characterizing the field (Chabrier 2003), as well as nearby star-forming regions, down to 1.0 M outside 2 pc. Whereas the results for both Mon R2 and R136 are consistent with the nearby clusters, the ratio of high to low mass stars in W51 tentatively indicates a lack of low-mass objects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)285-290
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the International Astronomical Union
Issue numberS227
StatePublished - 2005


  • Brown dwarfs
  • Stars: formation
  • Stars: low-mass
  • Stars: mass function

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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