The Upper Initial Mass Function from Ultraviolet Spectral Lines

Claus Leitherer


The space-ultraviolet wavelength region contains strong spectral lines from massive, hot stars. These features form in winds and are sensitive to luminosity and mass, and ultimately provide constraints on the initial mass function. New radiation-hydrodynamical models of stellar winds are used to construct a theoretical spectral library of massive stars for inclusion in population synthesis. The models are compared to observations of nearby star clusters, of starburst regions in local galaxies, and of distant star-forming galaxies. The data are consistent with a near-universal Salpeter-type initial mass function. We find no evidence of environmental effects on the initial mass function. Some model deficiencies are identified: stellar rotation and binary evolution are not accounted for and may become increasingly important in metal-poor systems.

Reference: To appear in UP2010: Have Observations Revealed a Variable Upper End of the Initial Mass Function?, M. Treyer, J. C. Lee, M. H. Seibert, T. Wyder, & D. Neill, eds
Status: Conference proceedings