The physics governing the upper truncation mass of the globular cluster mass function

Meghan E. Hughes, Joel L. Pfeffer, Nate Bastian, Marie Martig, J. M.Diederik Kruijssen, Robert A. Crain, Marta Reina-Campos, Sebastian Trujillo-Gomez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The mass function of globular cluster (GC) populations is a fundamental observable that encodes the physical conditions under which these massive stellar clusters formed and evolved. The high-mass end of star cluster mass functions are commonly described using a Schechter function, with an exponential truncation mass M c,∗. For the GC mass functions in the Virgo galaxy cluster, this truncation mass increases with galaxy mass ( M∗). In this paper, we fit Schechter mass functions to the GCs in the most massive galaxy group ( M 200 = 5 . 14 ×10 13 M ⊙) in the E-MOSAICS simulations. The fiducial cluster formation model in E-MOSAICS reproduces the observed trend of M c,∗with M∗for the Virgo cluster. We therefore examine the origin of the relation by fitting M c,∗as a function of galaxy mass, with and without accounting for mass loss by two-body relaxation, tidal shocks and/or dynamical friction. In the absence of these mass-loss mechanisms, the M c,∗- M∗relation is flat abo v e M∗> 10 10 M ⊙. It is therefore the disruption of high-mass GCs in galaxies with M∗∼10 10 M ⊙that lowers the M c,∗in these galaxies. High-mass GCs are able to survive in more massive galaxies, since there are more mergers to facilitate their redistribution to less-dense environments. The M c,∗-M∗relation is therefore a consequence of both the formation conditions of massive star clusters and their environmentally dependent disruption mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6190-6200
Number of pages11
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2022


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