Published on Wed Oct 03 2007

Evidence of Cosmic Evolution of the Stellar Initial Mass Function

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Theoretical arguments and indirect observational evidence suggest that the stellar initial mass function (IMF) may evolve with time, such that it is more weighted toward high mass stars at higher redshift. Here we test this idea by comparing the rate of luminosity evolution of massive early-type galaxies in clusters at 0.024), and the cosmic star formation history may have a fairly well-defined peak at z~1.5. The M/L_V ratios of galaxies are less affected than their star formation rates, and future data on the stellar mass density at z>3 will provide further constraints on IMF evolution. The formal errors likely underestimate the uncertainties, and confirmation of thes results requires a larger sample of clusters and the inclusion of redder rest-frame colors in the analysis.
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