Elementary Astronomy - Initial Mass Function

In summary, the problem asks to estimate the number of low and high mass stars in the Milky Way Galaxy using the Star Formation Rate and Initial Mass Function. The Star Formation Rate is approximately 1 Solar Mass per year and virtually all of it goes into making 0.5 Solar Mass stars. The Initial Mass Function, Xi, describes the number of stars at each mass and is represented by the equation \xi = \xi0 M-2.3, where M is the mass of the star in Solar Masses. The lifetime of stars is given by the equation L = 1010y / M2.5 and the galaxy is assumed to be 10 billion years old. To solve the problem, the value of \xi0
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Homework Statement


Estimate the number of low and high mass stars that you expect to find in our Milky Way Galaxy now. Use the following (very approximate but about right numbers) for your estimate:

The Star Formation Rate in our galaxy is approximately 1 Solar Mass per year and virtually all of this goes into making =~ 0.5 Solar Mass stars. The Initial Mass Function, Xi, describes the number of stars at each mass and is something like:

[tex]\xi[/tex] = [tex]\xi[/tex]0 M-2.3

where M is the mass of the stars in Solar Masses. In lecture it was shown that the lifetime of stars is given by

L = 1010y / M2.5

If the galaxy is 10 billion years old, how many 0.5 and 50 Solar Mass stars do you expect to find in the galaxy.

Homework Equations



[tex]\xi[/tex] = [tex]\xi[/tex]0 M-2.3
L = 1010y / M2.5

The Attempt at a Solution



My attempt lies around trying to understand exactly what [tex]\xi[/tex]0 is. Although we haven't learned it in class, I know that the IMF is meant to describe a distribution of initial solar masses in stars in the galaxy. Obviously, in this case we're not meant to do it in the standard fashion.

I note that when [tex]\xi[/tex]0 is 1 then
[tex]\xi[/tex] = 5 @ M = 0.5 and
[tex]\xi[/tex] = 0.02 @ M = 50

Which tells me that the function is working to some extent but without some explanation as to what [tex]\xi[/tex]0 is I can barely comprehend what I am meant to do with this question. I hope I'm not missing something completely obvious, but this question is confusing.
 
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Update:

I consulted my professor as I was handing in this assignment (Without this question completed) And he explained to me that [tex]\xi[/tex]0 is a constant, that can be determined from [tex]\xi[/tex] = 2 when M = 0.5. And from there the rest of the variables can be determined.
 

1. What is the Initial Mass Function (IMF) in astronomy?

The Initial Mass Function refers to the distribution of masses of stars in a particular region of space at the beginning of their formation. It is a fundamental concept in astronomy that describes the relative number of stars with different masses in a given stellar population.

2. How is the IMF determined?

The IMF is determined by observing the distribution of masses among stars in different regions of space. This can be done through various methods such as direct measurements of the masses of individual stars or statistical analysis of the luminosity and temperature of a large sample of stars.

3. What factors affect the IMF?

There are several factors that can affect the IMF, including the initial conditions of a star-forming region, the presence of nearby massive stars, and the efficiency of star formation. These factors can lead to variations in the IMF from one region to another.

4. What is the significance of the IMF?

The IMF is important because it provides insights into the formation and evolution of stars, as well as the overall structure and dynamics of galaxies. It also has implications for the chemical enrichment of the universe, as different mass stars release different elements into their surroundings through various stages of their lives.

5. Can the IMF change over time?

Yes, the IMF can change over time as stars are born, evolve, and die. This can be influenced by factors such as interactions between stars, mergers of galaxies, and the feedback from supernova explosions. However, the overall shape and characteristics of the IMF remain relatively constant in different regions and environments.

Suggested for: Elementary Astronomy - Initial Mass Function

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