BAUMGARDT H., PARMENTIER G., ANDERS P. and GREBEL E.K.
Abstract (from CDS):
The Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) is one of the nearest galaxies to us and is one of only few galaxies where the star formation history can be determined from studying resolved stellar populations. We have compiled a new catalogue of ages, luminosities and masses of LMC star clusters and used it to determine the age distribution and dissolution rate of LMC star clusters. We find that the frequency of massive clusters with masses M > 5000M☉ is almost constant between 10 and 200Myr, showing that the influence of residual gas expulsion is limited to the first 10Myr of cluster evolution or clusters less massive than 5000 M☉. Comparing the cluster frequency in that interval with the absolute star formation rate, we find that about 15 per cent of all stars in the LMC were formed in long-lived star clusters that survive for more than 10Myr. We also find that the mass function of LMC clusters younger than 109Gyr can be fitted by a power-law mass function N(m) ∼ m-α with slope α = 2.3, while older clusters follow a significantly shallower slope and interpret that this is a sign of either incompleteness or the ongoing dissolution of low-mass clusters. Our data show that for ages older than 200Myr, about 90 per cent of all clusters are lost per dex of lifetime. The implied cluster dissolution rate is significantly faster than that based on analytic estimates and N-body simulations. Our cluster age data finally show evidence for a burst in cluster formation about 109yr ago, but little evidence for bursts at other ages.