Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

The properties, origin and evolution of stellar clusters in galaxy simulations and observations

Dobbs, C. L.; Adamo, A.; Few, C. G.; Calzetti, D.; Dale, D. A.; Elmegreen, B. G.; Evans, A. S.; Gouliermis, D. A.; Grasha, K.; Grebel, E. K.; Johnson, K. E.; Kim, H.; Lee, J. C.; Messa, M.; Ryon, J. E.; Smith, L. J.; Thilker, D.; Ubeda, L.; Whitmore, B.


C. L. Dobbs

A. Adamo

D. Calzetti

D. A. Dale

B. G. Elmegreen

A. S. Evans

D. A. Gouliermis

K. Grasha

E. K. Grebel

K. E. Johnson

H. Kim

J. C. Lee

M. Messa

J. E. Ryon

L. J. Smith

D. Thilker

L. Ubeda

B. Whitmore


We investigate the properties and evolution of star particles in two simulations of isolated spiral galaxies, and two galaxies from cosmological simulations. Unlike previous numerical work, where typically each star particle represents one ‘cluster’, for the isolated galaxies we are able to model features we term ‘clusters’ with groups of particles. We compute the spatial distribution of stars with different ages, and cluster mass distributions, comparing our findings with observations including the recent LEGUS survey. We find that spiral structure tends to be present in older (100s Myrs) stars and clusters in the simulations compared to the observations. This likely reflects differences in the numbers of stars or clusters, the strength of spiral arms, and whether the clusters are allowed to evolve. Where we model clusters with multiple particles, we are able to study their evolution. The evolution of simulated clusters tends to follow that of their natal gas clouds. Massive, dense, long-lived clouds host massive clusters, whilst short-lived clouds host smaller clusters which readily disperse. Most clusters appear to disperse fairly quickly, in basic agreement with observational findings. We note that embedded clusters may be less inclined to disperse in simulations in a galactic environment with continuous accretion of gas onto the clouds than isolated clouds and correspondingly, massive young clusters which are no longer associated with gas tend not to occur in the simulations. Caveats of our models include that the cluster densities are lower than realistic clusters, and the simplistic implementation of stellar feedback.


Dobbs, C. L., Adamo, A., Few, C. G., Calzetti, D., Dale, D. A., Elmegreen, B. G., …Whitmore, B. (2017). The properties, origin and evolution of stellar clusters in galaxy simulations and observations. Monthly notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 464(3), 3580-3596.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 30, 2016
Online Publication Date Sep 2, 2016
Publication Date Jan 21, 2017
Deposit Date Sep 16, 2016
Publicly Available Date Sep 16, 2016
Journal Monthly notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Print ISSN 0035-8711
Electronic ISSN 1365-2966
Publisher Oxford University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 464
Issue 3
Pages 3580-3596
Keywords Galaxies : clusters : general, ISM : clouds, stars : formation
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Copy of an article published in: Monthly notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 2017, v.464, issue 3.


Article.pdf (4 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2016 The Authors. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society.

You might also like

Downloadable Citations