SCYON Abstract

Received on September 20 2012

Extremely rapid star cluster disruption in high-shear circumnuclear starburst rings: the unusual case of NGC 7742

AuthorsRichard de Grijs and Peter Anders
AffiliationKavli Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Peking University, Yi He Yuan Lu 5, Hai Dian District, Beijing 100871, China
To appear inApJ Letters


All known mass distributions of recently formed star cluster populations resemble a "universal" power-law function. Here we assess the impact of the extremely disruptive environment in NGC 7742's circumnuclear starburst ring on the early evolution of the galaxy's high-mass (~105--107 M(sun)) star cluster population. Surprisingly, and contrary to expectations, at all ages -- including the youngest, ≤ 15 Myr -- the cluster mass functions are robustly and verifiably represented by lognormal distributions that resemble those commonly found only for old, evolved globular cluster systems in the local Universe. This suggests that the high-shear conditions in the NGC 7742 starburst ring may significantly speed up dynamical star cluster destruction. This enhanced mass-dependent disruption rate at very young ages might be caused by a combination of the starburst ring's high density and the shear caused by the counterrotating gas disk in the galaxy's inner region.