Volume 411, Number 3, December I 2003
|Page(s)||397 - 404|
|Section||Galactic structure, stellar clusters, and populations|
|Published online||17 November 2003|
On the formation of massive stellar clusters
Instituto Nacional de Astrofísica Optica y Electrónica, AP 51, 72000 Puebla, México e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
2 Astronomical Institute, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Boční II 1401, 141 31 Praha 4, Czech Republic
3 Instituto Nacional de Astrofísica Optica y Electrónica, AP 51, 72000 Puebla, México e-mail: email@example.com
4 Instituto Astronômico e Geofísico, USP, Av. Miguel Stéfano 4200, 04301-904 Sao Paulo, Brazil e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
5 Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, 38200 La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain e-mail: email@example.com
Corresponding author: J. Palouš, firstname.lastname@example.org
Accepted: 14 July 2003
Here we model a star forming factory in which the continuous creation of stars results in a highly concentrated, massive (globular cluster-like) stellar system. We show that under very general conditions a large-scale gravitational instability in the ISM, which triggers the collapse of a massive cloud, leads with the aid of a spontaneous first generation of massive stars, to a standing, small-radius, cold and dense shell. Eventually, as more of the collapsing matter is processed and incorporated, the shell becomes gravitationally unstable and begins to fragment, allowing the formation of new stars, while keeping its location. This is due to a detailed balance established between the ram pressure from the collapsing cloud which, together with the gravitational force exerted on the shell by the forming cluster, acts against the mechanical energy deposited by the collection of new stars. We present a full analysis of feedback and show how the standing shell copes with the increasing mechanical energy generated by an increasing star-formation rate. The latter also leads to a rapidly growing number of ionizing photons, and we show that these manage to ionize only the inner skin of the standing star-forming shell. We analyze the mass spectrum of fragments that result from the continuous fragmentation of the standing shell and show that its shape is well approximated at the high mass end by a power law with slope -2.25, very close to the value that fits the universal IMF. Furthermore, it presents a maximum near to one solar mass and a rapid change towards a much flatter slope for smaller fragments. The self-contamination resultant from the continuous generation of stars is shown to lead to a large metal spread in massive (~10) clusters, while clusters with a mass similar to 10 or smaller, simply reflect the initial metalicity of the collapsing cloud. This is in good agreement with the data available for globular clusters in the Galaxy. Other observables such as the expected IR luminosity and the Hα equivalent width caused by the forming clusters are also calculated.
Key words: stars: formation / superstar clusters / supernovae: general / ISM: bubbles / globular clusters: general / galaxies: starburst
© ESO, 2003
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