The star cluster mass-galactocentric radius relation: Implications for cluster formation

Weijia Sun, Richard de Grijs, Zhou Fan, Ewan Cameron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Whether or not the initial star cluster mass function is established through a universal, galactocentric-distance independent stochastic process, on the scales of individual galaxies, remains an unsolved problem. This debate has recently gained new impetus through the publication of a study that concluded that the maximum cluster mass in a given population is not solely determined by size-of-sample effects. Here, we revisit the evidence in favor and against stochastic cluster formation by examining the young (≲ a few × 108 year old) star cluster massgalactocentric radius relation in M33, M51, M83, and the Large Magellanic Cloud. To eliminate size-of-sample effects, we first adopt radial bin sizes containing constant numbers of clusters, which we use to quantify the radial distribution of the first- to fifth-ranked most massive clusters using ordinary least-squares fitting. We supplement this analysis with an application of quantile regression, a binless approach to rank-based regression taking an absolute-value-distance penalty. Both methods yield, within the 1σ to 3σ uncertainties, near-zero slopes in the diagnostic plane, largely irrespective of the maximum age or minimum mass imposed on our sample selection, or of the radial bin size adopted. We conclude that, at least in our four well-studied sample galaxies, star cluster formation does not necessarily require an environment-dependent cluster formation scenario, which thus supports the notion of stochastic star cluster formation as the dominant star cluster-formation process within a given galaxy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9
Number of pages14
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • galaxies: evolution
  • galaxies: individual (M33 M51 M83 LMC)
  • galaxies: star clusters: general


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