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The Initial Mass Function, from Top to Bottom
The Geological Society
Burlington House
Start Time: 10 Nov 2017 - 10:00
End Time: 10 Nov 2017 - 15:30

A RAS Specialist Discussion Meeting organised by *R.J. Smith (Durham); R.L. Davies (Oxford); I. Ferreras (UCL); C. Maraston (Portsmouth); D. Thomas (Portsmouth);



The stellar initial mass function (IMF) dictates many properties of galaxies: e.g. mass-to-light ratios, Fundamental Plane evolution, compact binary populations, supernova rates, chemical evolution, contribution of massive stars to re-ionisation, etc. Given the relevance of the IMF to so many aspects of astrophysics, it is essential to establish whether the "standard" Chabrier/Kroupa form, inferred from nearby star-forming regions in the Milky Way, can be safely extrapolated to all types of galaxy, of all masses, and at all redshifts, as is commonly assumed. Recent studies of massive early-type galaxies, and of faint dwarf galaxies, have suggested that the IMF can deviate from the standard form, at least in some extra-galactic environments. These claims have stimulated intense debate over the reality and interpretation of the IMF variations, and over their implications for star formation theories and galaxy evolution models.


The ongoing IMF universality debate is inherently "multi-layered", spanning a range of astrophysical disciplines, from parsec-scale theories and models of star-formation through to properties of the galaxy population at large. Accordingly, we aim to bring together researchers studying all aspects of the IMF, including star-forming galaxies (where the high-mass end of the IMF is relevant), and resolved stellar systems in and around the Milky Way, as well as tackling the issue of the low-mass IMF in early-type galaxies.