The Slope of the Upper End of the IMF and the Upper Mass Limit: An Observer's Perspective

Philip Massey

Lowell Observatory

There are various ways of measuring the slope of the upper end of the IMF. Arguably the most direct of these is to place stars on the H-R diagram and compare their positions with stellar evolutionary models. Even so, the masses one infers from this depend upon the exact methodology used. I briefly discuss some of the caveats and go through a brief error analysis. I conclude that the current data suggest that the IMF slopes are the same to within the errors. Similarly the determination of the upper mass "limit" is dependent upon how well one can determine the masses of the most massive stars within a cluster. The recent finding by Crowther et al (2010) invalidates the claim that there is a 150Mo upper limit to the IMF, but this is really not surprising given the weakness of the previous evidence.

Reference: To appear in "UP: Have Observations Revealed a Variable Upper End of the Initial Mass Function"
Status: Conference proceedings