Date(s) - 06/02/2013
3:20 pm - 4:20 pm
Title: The Life Cycle of Star Clusters
Speaker: Dr. Rupali Chandar, University of Toledo
Institute: University of Toledo
Location: ABB 102
Star formation is an on-going process in many nearby galaxies, like in our own Milky Way. It is responsible for enriching the material between the stars in heavy elements and for contributing mechanical energy to the host galaxy, among others. There is now strong evidence that most stars form together in groups and clusters, rather than individually. This means that most stars that we observe in galaxies have, at some point, lived in a star cluster, and that the life cycle of star clusters tells us about the build up of galaxies. The ages and masses of individual star clusters can be determined observationally. I will present a basic picture for the life cycles of star clusters from their birth in molecular clouds to their dissolution into the (unclustered) field star population within their host galaxy. This picture is motivated by recent observational studies of the mass and age distributions of star cluster populations in a number of nearby galaxies of different types and environments (e.g., dwarf, giant, spiral, irregular, interacting, quiescent). Underlying the apparent diversity and complexity of these cluster systems, there are some intriguing regularities. This suggests that this simple picture for the formation and disruption of clusters of stars in galaxies of different types is “quasi-universal” — that it approximately describes the life cycles of most star clusters.