ISSI Team - de Grijs et al.

The Life and Death of Star Clusters

The Cluster Luminosity Function (CLF; i.e., the distribution of cluster luminosities) of young star cluster systems provides a key benchmark for models of early (globular) cluster evolution. An increasing body of evidence suggests that the intrinsic initial CLF - in any cluster-forming environment - may be close to a Gaussian distribution, implying that the observed power-law CLFs of young star cluster systems are significantly affected by age spreads and non-uniform star formation histories across their host galaxies. We propose to obtain a significantly improved benchmark for studies of early cluster evolution, using our recently developed sophisticated fitting method that allows us to extract basic cluster parameters for large samples of star clusters individually (ages, masses, metallicities) from multi-passband broad-band imaging observations. We will feed our results on the initial conditions for cluster formation into realistic numerical simulations and follow the evolution of the young star cluster systems to ages equivalent to those of the ubiquitous old globular cluster populations in the local Universe, while taking cluster disruption into account. We will thus be able to confirm the exciting prospect of whether we are in fact witnessing proto-globular cluster formation continuing until the present. This will provide a very important cornerstone to either support or reject some of the currently most favoured cosmological galaxy formation scenarios.

Team Members
  • Dr. Richard de Grijs (Team Leader), University of Sheffield, UK
  • Mr. Peter Anders (Ph.D. student), Universitätssternwarte Göttingen, Germany
  • Dr. Uta Fritze-v. Alvensleben, Universitätssternwarte Göttingen, Germany
  • Mr. Mark Gieles (Ph.D. student), Utrecht University, The Netherlands
  • Prof. Henny J.G.L.M. Lamers, Utrecht University, The Netherlands
  • Dr. Geneviève Parmentier, University of Cambridge, UK
  • Dr. Simon Portegies Zwart, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Resulting Papers
  • Anders P., 2006, Ph.D. thesis, University of Göttingen, Germany:
    Star cluster formation and evolution in interacting galaxies
  • Anders P., Bissantz N., Boysen L., de Grijs R., Fritze-v. Alvensleben U., 2006, ApJL, submitted:
    The Antennae young star clusters: an old globular cluster system observed at its birth
  • Anders P., Gieles M., de Grijs R., 2006, A&A, in press:
    Accurate photometry of extended spherically symmetric sources; (astro-ph/0602077)
  • de Grijs R., 2005, in: "Island Universes - Structure and Evolution of Disk Galaxies", de Jong R.S., ed., July 2005, Terschelling (Netherlands), Astrophysics & Space Science Library (Springer: Dordrecht), in press:
    Modes of star formation along the Hubble Sequence and beyond; (astro-ph/0508205)
  • de Grijs R., Anders P., 2006, MNRAS, 366, 295:
    How well do we know the age and mass distributions of star cluster system in the Large Magellanic Cloud?; (astro-ph/0511305)
  • de Grijs R., Anders P., Lamers H.J.G.L.M., Bastian N., Parmentier G., Sharina M.E., Yi S., 2005, MNRAS, 359, 874:
    Systematic uncertainties in the analysis of star cluster parameters based on broad-band imaging observations; (astro-ph/0502289)
  • de Grijs R., Parmentier P., Lamers H.J.G.L.M., 2005, MNRAS, 364, 1054:
    The initial mass distribution of the M82 star cluster system; (astro-ph/0509721)
  • Fritze-v. Alvensleben U., Larsen S.S., Anders P., de Grijs R., Lamers H.J.G.L.M., 2006, A&A, in prep.:
    What is wrong with globular clusters?
  • Gieles M., Larsen S.S., Bastian N., Stein I.T., 2006, A&A, in press:
    The luminosity function of young star clusters: implications for the maximum mass and luminosity of clusters; (astro-ph/0512297)
  • Lamers H.J.G.L.M., Anders P., de Grijs R., 2006, A&A, in press:
    Photometric evolution of dissolving star clusters: I. First predictions; (astro-ph/0601606)
  • Lamers H.J.G.L.M., Anders P., Portegies Zwart S., 2006, A&A, in prep.:
    Photometric evolution of dissolving star clusters: II.