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M82-F: a doomed super star cluster?

Smith, L.J.; Gallagher, J.S.; (2001) M82-F: a doomed super star cluster? Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society , 326 (3) pp. 1027-1040. 10.1046/j.1365-8711.2001.04627.x. Green open access


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We present high-dispersion echelle spectroscopy of the very luminous, young super star cluster (SSC) 'F' in M82, obtained with the 4.2-m William Herschel Telescope, for the purpose of deriving its dynamical mass and assessing whether it will survive to become an old globular cluster. In addition to the stellar lines, the spectrum contains complex Na i absorption and broad emission lines from the ionized gas. We measure a stellar velocity dispersion of 13.4±0.7 km s−1 and a projected half-light radius of 2.8±0.3 pc from archival HST/WFPC2 images, and derive a dynamical mass of 1.2±0.1×106 M⊙, demonstrating that M82-F is a very massive, compact cluster. We determine that the current luminosity-to-mass ratio (LV/M)⊙ for M82-F is 45±13. Comparison with spectral synthesis models shows that (LV/M)⊙ is a factor of ∼ 5 higher than that predicted for a standard Kroupa initial mass function (IMF) at the well-determined age for M82-F of 60±20 Myr. This high value of (LV/M)⊙ indicates a deficit of low-mass stars in M82-F; the current mass function (MF) evidently is 'top-heavy'. We find that a lower mass cut-off of 2–3 M⊙ is required to match the observations for a MF with a slope α=2.3. Since the cluster apparently lacks long-lived low-mass stars, it will not become an old globular cluster, but probably will dissolve at an age of ≤ 2 Gyr. We also derive updated luminosity-to-mass ratios for the younger SSCs NGC 1569A and 1705-1. For the first object, the observations are consistent with a slightly steeper MF (α=2.5), whereas for NGC 1705-1 the observed ratio requires the MF to be truncated near 2 M⊙ for a slope of α=2.3. We discuss the implications of our findings in the context of large-scale IMF variations; with the present data the top-heavy MF could reflect a local mass segregation effect during the birth of the cluster. M82-F probably formed in a dense molecular cloud; however, its high radial velocity with respect to the centre of M82 (∼−175 km s−1) suggests that it is on an eccentric orbit and now far from its birthplace, so the environment of its formation is unknown.

Type: Article
Title: M82-F: a doomed super star cluster?
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1046/j.1365-8711.2001.04627.x
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-8711.2001.04627.x
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > Dept of Physics and Astronomy
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10024
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