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Advances in Astronomy
Volume 2011, Article ID 174105, 19 pages
Research Article

Constraining the Stellar Mass Function in the Galactic Center via Mass Loss from Stellar Collisions

1Department of Physics, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
2Department of Astronomy, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA

Received 6 September 2011; Accepted 23 November 2011

Academic Editor: Paola Marziani

Copyright © 2011 Douglas Rubin and Abraham Loeb. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The dense concentration of stars and high-velocity dispersions in the Galactic center imply that stellar collisions frequently occur. Stellar collisions could therefore result in significant mass loss rates. We calculate the amount of stellar mass lost due to indirect and direct stellar collisions and find its dependence on the present-day mass function of stars. We find that the total mass loss rate in the Galactic center due to stellar collisions is sensitive to the present-day mass function adopted. We use the observed diffuse X-ray luminosity in the Galactic center to preclude any present-day mass functions that result in mass loss rates >10-5Myr−1 in the vicinity of ~1. For present-day mass functions of the form, dN/dMM-α, we constrain the present-day mass function to have a minimum stellar mass 7M and a power-law slope 1.25. We also use this result to constrain the initial mass function in the Galactic center by considering different star formation scenarios.