The mass-to-light ratio of rich star clusters

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We point out a strong time evolution of the mass-to-light conversion factor, η, commonly used to estimate masses of unresolved star clusters from observed cluster spectrophotometric measures. We present a series of gas-dynamical models, coupled with the Cambridge stellar evolution tracks, to compute line-of-sight velocity dispersions and half-light radii weighted by the luminosity. We explore a range of initial conditions, varying in turn the cluster mass and/or density, and the stellar population’s initial mass function. We find that η, and hence the estimated cluster mass, may increase by as much as a factor of three over time-scales of 50 million yr. We apply these results to an hypothetic cluster mass distribution function (d.f.), and show that the d.f. shape may be strongly affected at the low-mass end by this effect. Fitting truncated isothermal (Michie–King) models to the projected light profile leads to over-estimates of the concentration parameter, c, of δ c≈0.3 compared to the same functional fit applied to the projected mass density.


Externa organisationer
  • University of Strasbourg

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ) – OBLIGATORISK

  • Astronomi, astrofysik och kosmologi


Sidor (från-till)265-269
Antal sidor5
StatusPublished - 2009 dec 1
Peer review utfördJa
Externt publiceradJa