Star cluster formation in cosmological simulations. I. Properties of young clusters.
LI H., GNEDIN O.Y., GNEDIN N.Y., MENG X., SEMENOV V.A. and KRAVTSOV A.V.
Abstract (from CDS):
We present a new implementation of star formation in cosmological simulations by considering star clusters as a unit of star formation. Cluster particles grow in mass over several million years at the rate determined by local gas properties, with high time resolution. The particle growth is terminated by its own energy and momentum feedback on the interstellar medium. We test this implementation for Milky Way-sized galaxies at high redshift by comparing the properties of model clusters with observations of young star clusters. We find that the cluster initial mass function is best described by a Schechter function rather than a single power law. In agreement with observations, at low masses the logarithmic slope is α~1.8–2, while the cutoff at high mass scales with the star formation rate (SFR). A related trend is a positive correlation between the surface density of the SFR and fraction of stars contained in massive clusters. Both trends indicate that the formation of massive star clusters is preferred during bursts of star formation. These bursts are often associated with major-merger events. We also find that the median timescale for cluster formation ranges from 0.5 to 4 Myr and decreases systematically with increasing star formation efficiency. Local variations in the gas density and cluster accretion rate naturally lead to the scatter of the overall formation efficiency by an order of magnitude, even when the instantaneous efficiency is kept constant. Comparison of the formation timescale with the observed age spread of young star clusters provides an additional important constraint on the modeling of star formation and feedback schemes.