The Present-day Mass Function of Star Clusters in the Solar Neighborhood

Xiaoying Pang*, Siqi Liao, Jiadong Li, Zhiqiang Yan, Mingjie Jian, M. B. N. Kouwenhoven, Shih-Yun Tang, Yifan Wang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This work analyzes the present-day mass function (PDMF) of 93 star clusters utilizing Gaia Data Release 3 data, with membership determined by the StarGo machine-learning algorithm. The impact of unresolved binary systems on mass estimation is rigorously assessed, adopting three mass ratio profiles for correction. The PDMF is characterized by the power-law index, α, derived through a robust maximum likelihood method that avoids biases associated with data binning. The value of α for stars between the completeness limited mass of Gaia (with a mean 0.3 M ⊙ for our cluster samples) and 2 M ⊙ exhibits stability for clusters younger than 200 Myr, decreasing for older clusters, particularly when considering stars within the half-mass radius. The PDMF of these star clusters is consistent with a dynamically evolved Kroupa initial mass function via the loss of low-mass stars. Cluster morphology shows a correlation with α, as α values exhibit a decreasing trend from filamentary to tidal-tail clusters, mirroring the sequence of increasing cluster age. The dependence of α on the total cluster mass is weak, with a subtle increase for higher-mass clusters, especially outside the half-mass radius. We do not observe a correlation between α and the mean metallicity of the clusters. Younger clusters have lower metallicity compared to their older counterparts, which indicates that the older clusters might have migrated to the solar neighborhood from the inner disk. A comparison with numerical models incorporating a black hole population suggests the need for observations of distant, older, massive open clusters to determine whether or not they contain black holes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-178
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 10 May 2024


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