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Astron. Astrophys. 358, 514-520 (2000)

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The luminosity function of galactic ultra-compact H II regions and the IMF for massive stars *

S. Casassus 1,2, L. Bronfman 1, J. May 1 and L.-Å. Nyman 3,4

1 Departamento de Astronomía, Universidad de Chile, Casilla 36-D, Santiago, Chile
2 Astrophysics, University of Oxford, Keble Road, Oxford OX1 3RH, UK
3 SEST, ESO-La Silla, Casilla 19001, Santiago 19, Chile
4 Onsala Space Observatory, 439 92 Sweden

Received 19 January 1999 / Accepted 16 December 1999


The population of newly formed massive stars, while still embedded in their parent molecular clouds, is studied on the galactic disk scale. We analyse the luminosity function of IRAS point-like sources, with far-infrared (FIR) colours of ultra-compact H II regions, that have been detected in the CS(2-1) line - a tracer of high density molecular gas. The FIR luminosities of 555 massive star forming regions (MSFRs), 413 of which lie within the solar circle, are inferred from their fluxes in the four IRAS bands and from their kinematic distances, derived using the CS(2-1) velocity profiles. The luminosity function (LF) for the UCH II region candidates shows a peak well above the completeness limit, and is different within and outside the solar circle (96% confidence level). While within the solar circle the LF has a maximum for [FORMULA], outside the solar circle the maximum is at [FORMULA]. We model the LF using three free parameters: [FORMULA], the exponent for the initial mass function (IMF) expressed in [FORMULA]; [FORMULA], the exponent for a power law distribution in [FORMULA], the number of stars per MSFR; and [FORMULA], an upper limit for [FORMULA]. While [FORMULA] has a value of [FORMULA] throughout the Galaxy, [FORMULA] changes from [FORMULA] inside the solar circle to [FORMULA] outside, with a maximum for the number of stars per MSFR of [FORMULA]650 and [FORMULA]450 (with [FORMULA]). Thus the IMF appears not to vary, although the average number of stars per MSFR within the solar circle is higher than for the outer Galaxy.

Key words: stars: luminosity function, mass function – stars: formation – ISM: H ii regions – ISM: molecules – infrared: ISM: continuum – radio lines: ISM

* based partly on results collected at the European Southern Observatory, La Silla, Chile

Send offprint requests to: L. Bronfman

© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 2000

Online publication: June 8, 2000