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An excess of massive stars in the local 30 Doradus starburst

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Science  05 Jan 2018:
Vol. 359, Issue 6371, pp. 69-71
DOI: 10.1126/science.aan0106

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Observing more massive stars

The number of stars that form at each mass is known as the initial mass function (IMF). For most masses, the IMF follows a power-law distribution, first determined by Edwin Salpeter in 1955. Schneider et al. used observations of the nearby star-forming region 30 Doradus (also known as the Tarantula Nebula) and combined these with stellar modeling to determine its IMF. They found more stars above 30 solar masses than predicted by the Salpeter distribution. Because the most massive stars also have the biggest influence on their surroundings—for instance, through ultraviolet radiation, stellar winds, supernova explosions, and production of heavy elements—this excess will have wide-ranging implications.

Science, this issue p. 69