What Is the Role of Stellar Radiative Feedback in Setting the Stellar Mass Spectrum?

Patrick Hennebelle*, Benoît Commerçon, Yueh Ning Lee, Gilles Chabrier

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


In spite of decades of theoretical efforts, the physical origin of the stellar initial mass function (IMF) is still debated. Particularly crucial is the question of what sets the peak of the distribution. To investigate this issue, we perform high-resolution numerical simulations with radiative feedback exploring, in particular, the role of the stellar and accretion luminosities. We also perform simulations with a simple effective equation of state (EOS), and we investigate 1000 solar-mass clumps having, respectively, 0.1 and 0.4 pc of initial radii. We found that most runs, both with radiative transfer or an EOS, present similar mass spectra with a peak broadly located around 0.3-0.5 M o and a power-law-like mass distribution at higher masses. However, when accretion luminosity is accounted for, the resulting mass spectrum of the most compact clump tends to be moderately top-heavy. The effect remains limited for the less compact one, which overall remains colder. Our results support the idea that rather than the radiative stellar feedback, this is the transition from the isothermal to the adiabatic regime, which occurs at a gas density of about 1010 cm-3, that is responsible for setting the peak of the IMF. This stems from (i) the fact that extremely compact clumps for which the accretion luminosity has a significant influence are very rare and (ii) the luminosity problem, which indicates that the effective accretion luminosity is likely weaker than expected.

Original languageEnglish
Article number194
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Dec 1


  • Collapsing clouds (267)
  • Hydrodynamical simulations (767)
  • Initial mass function (796)
  • Radiative transfer (1335)
  • Star formation (1569)
  • Stellar accretion (1578)
  • Stellar feedback (1602)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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