The Initial Mass Function of Field OB Stars in the Small Magellanic Cloud

Lamb, J. B.
Oey, M. S.
Graus, A. S.
Adams, F. C.
Segura-Cox, D. M.

University of Michigan

Some theories of star formation suggest massive stars may only form in clustered environments, which would create a deficit of massive stars in low density environments. Observationally, Massey (2002) finds such a deficit in samples of the field population in the Small and Large Magellanic Clouds, with an IMF slope of {Gamma} ~ 4. These IMF measurements represent some of the largest known deviations from the standard Salpeter IMF slope of {Gamma}=1.35. Here, we carry out a comprehensive investigation of the mass function above 20 solar masses for the entire field population of the Small Magellanic Cloud, based on data from the Runaways and Isolated O Type Star Spectroscopic Survey of the SMC (RIOTS4). This is a spatially complete census of the entire field OB star population of the SMC obtained with the IMACS multi-object spectrograph and MIKE echelle spectrograph on the Magellan telescopes. Based on Monte-Carlo simulations of the evolved present-day mass function, we find the slope of the field IMF above 20 solar masses is {Gamma}=2.3+/-0.4. We extend our IMF measurement to lower masses using BV photometry from the OGLE II survey. We use a statistical approach to generate a probability distribution for the mass of each star from the OGLE photometry, and we again find {Gamma}=2.3+/-0.6 for stellar masses from 7-20 solar masses. The discovery and removal of ten runaways in our RIOTS4 sample steepens the field IMF slope to {Gamma}=2.8+/-0.5. We discuss the possible effects of binarity and star-formation history on our results, and conclude that the steep field massive star IMF is most likely a real effect.

Reference: Accepted for publication in ApJ
Status: Manuscript has been accepted