The low-mass content of the massive young star cluster RCW 38
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RCW 38 is a deeply embedded young (∼1 Myr), massive star cluster located at a distance of 1.7 kpc. Twice as dense as the Orion nebula cluster, orders of magnitude denser than other nearby star-forming regions and rich in massive stars, RCW 38 is an ideal place to look for potential differences in brown dwarf formation efficiency as a function of environment. We present deep, high-resolution adaptive optics data of the central ∼0.5 × 0.5 pc2 obtained with NACO at the Very Large Telescope. Through comparison with evolutionary models, we determine masses and extinction for ∼480 candidate members, and derive the first initial mass function (IMF) of the cluster extending into the substellar regime. Representing the IMF as a set of power laws in the form dN/dM ∝ M−α, we derive the slope α = 1.60 ± 0.13 for the mass range 0.5–20 M⊙,which is shallower than the Salpeter slope, but in agreement with results in several other young massive clusters. At the low-mass side, we find α = 0.71 ± 0.11 for masses between 0.02 and 0.5 M⊙, or α = 0.81 ± 0.08 for masses between 0.02 and 1 M⊙. Our result is in agreement with the values found in other young star-forming regions, revealing no evidence that a combination of high stellar densities and the presence of numerous massive stars affects the formation efficiency of brown dwarfs and very-low-mass stars. We estimate that the Milky Way galaxy contains between 25 and 100 billion brown dwarfs (with masses >0.03 M⊙).
Mužić , K , Schödel , R , Scholz , A , Geers , V C , Jayawardhana , R , Ascenso , J & Cieza , L A 2017 , ' The low-mass content of the massive young star cluster RCW 38 ' Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society , vol 471 , no. 3 , pp. 3699-3712 . DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stx1906
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
© 2017 The Authors. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society. This work is made available online in accordance with the publisher’s policies. This is the final published version of the work, which was originally published at: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/mnras/stx1906
KM acknowledges funding by the Joint Committee of ESO/Government of Chile, and by the Science and Technology Foundation of Portugal (FCT), grant no. IF/00194/2015. Part of the research leading to these results has received funding from the European Research Council under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013)/ERC grant agreement no. . RJ acknowledges support from NSERC grants. JA acknowledges funding by the Science and Technology Foundation of Portugal (FCT), grant no. SFRH/BPD/101562/2014.
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