How does a low-mass cut-off in the stellar IMF affect the evolution of young star clusters?

M. B. N. Kouwenhoven, S. P. Goodwin, R. De Grijs, M. Rose, Sungsoo S. Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


We investigate how different stellar initial mass functions (IMFs) can affect the mass-loss and survival of star clusters. We find that IMFs with radically different low-mass cut-offs (between 0.1 and 2 M) do not change cluster destruction time-scales as much as might be expected. Unsurprisingly, we find that clusters with more high-mass stars lose relatively more mass through stellar evolution, but the response to this mass-loss is to expand and hence significantly slow their dynamical evolution. We also argue that it is very difficult, if not impossible, to have clusters with different IMFs that are initially 'the same', since the mass, radius and relaxation times depend on each other and on the IMF in a complex way. We conclude that changing the IMF to be biased towards more massive stars does speed up mass-loss and dissolution, but that it is not as dramatic as might be thought.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2256-2267
Number of pages12
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 11 Dec 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Open clusters and associations: general
  • Stars: kinematics and dynamics
  • Stars: low-mass
  • Stars: luminosity function, mass function


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