The Astrophysics of Stellar Clusters

By Melvyn B. Davies

This book is currently in preparation and will be published by Cambridge University Press.

Comments welcome.

Overview of contents

Review of Observations of Stellar Clusters

An introduction to the various different types of stellar clusters together with a review of what is known from current observations. Sections of this chapter will include discussions of young clusters, open clusters, globular clusters and galactic nuclei, including recent observations for example from HST. I will also include a discussion of the tools of the observer: the HR diagram, the virial theorem, stellar evolution and the initial mass function (IMF).

Theoretical Overview of the Evolution within Crowded Places

This chapter will present a review of the theoretical astrophysics relevant to evolution within stellar clusters. Sections will include discussions of models of stellar clusters, dynamical evolution, the Fokker-Planck equation, mass segregation, evaporation of stars, tidal interactions, stellar collisions, interactions involving binaries, and tidal disruption by massive objects.

Globular clusters

This chapter will focus on topics of particular relevance to globular clusters. Sections will include discussions of the formation of blue stragglers, X-ray binaries, millisecond pulsars, cataclysmic variables, and the survivability of planetary systems. I will also consider the populations of globular clusters in various galaxies, discussing their specific frequency and size and mass distributions.

Galactic nuclei

This chapter will focus on topics of particular relevance to galactic nuclei. Sections will include discussions of the formation and feeding of massive black holes, red giant depletion in the Milky Way, tidal disruption, the role of stellar collisions, and a comparison with globular clusters. The nuclei of other galaxies will also be considered, including those containing more massive black holes. I will also discuss the relationship between the central bulge of the galaxy and the origin and evolution of the supermassive black hole at its core.

Young clusters

This chapter will review topics relevant to very young clusters. These will include a discussion of interactions between stars and circumstellar discs, accretion-induced contraction and its effect on the collision rate, the possible origins of the observed IMF and the formation of massive stars.

Cluster Formation

The final chapter will look at the formation of stellar clusters, considering the full variety of stellar clusters described earlier in the book. Topics will include globular cluster formation in the early Universe and the formation of stellar clusters in interacting galaxies, such as the Antennae galaxies, will also be considered.

Page maintained by Melvyn B. Davies Last modified : 16th January 2003