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Observational constraints on cluster evolution

By S.S. Larsen


Current observational constraints on the dynamical evolution of star clusters are reviewed. Theory and observations now agree nicely on the mass dependency and time scales for disruption of young star clusters in galactic disks, but many problems still await resolution. The origin of the mass function of old globular clusters, and its (near) invariance with respect to host galaxy properties and location within the host galaxy remain prominent puzzles. Most current models fail to reproduce the globular cluster mass function as a result of dynamical evolution from an initial power-law, except under very specific conditions which are not generally consistent with observations. How well do we actually know the proper initial conditions? The cluster initial mass function (CIMF) seems to be consistent with a power-law with exponent α ≈ −2 in most present-day star forming galaxies, but the limits of the mass range over which this approximation is valid remain poorly constrained both observationally and theoretically. Furthermore, there are hints that some dwarf galaxies may have CIMFs which deviate from a power-law

Year: 2008
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