NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2013A-0161

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Proposal Information for 2013A-0161


PI: Anil Seth, University of Utah, aseth@astro.utah.edu
Address: 115 South 1400 East #201, Salt Lake City, UT, 84112-0830, USA

CoI: Nate Bastian, Liverpool John Moores University
CoI: Mark Westmoquette, European Southern Observatory
CoI: Michael Meyer, ETH Zurich

Title: Testing IMF universality through the direct detection of low mass stars in starburst galaxies

Abstract: Whether or not the initial mass function (IMF) of stars is universal, or is instead sensitive to the initial conditions of star formation is a source of vigorous discussion. The distinction is of critical importance: the IMF influences most of the observable properties of stellar populations and galaxies, and detecting variations in the IMF could provide deep insights into the star formation process. We propose to obtain near-IR spectra with NIFS on Gemini-North of the central starburst region in M82, in order to directly detect the presence of low mass pre-main sequence stars. Through quantitative analysis of high S/N spectra, the number of low mass stars relative to high mass stars can be estimated, providing the most direct constraint on the IMF possible for galaxies outside the local group. This technique has recently been verified for young clusters in the Antennae merging galaxies. M82 (which is a factor of 6 closer than the Antennae) is the local template most often used to understand high redshift star-forming galaxies, and hence it is a key touchstone in our understanding of the IMF.


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NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2013A-0161

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