On the basis of various observational evidence, we argue that the overall present-day distribution of mass in globular cluster systems around galaxies as diverse as M87 and the Milky Way may be in large part reflective of robust formation processes, and little influenced by subsequent dynamical evolution of the globulars. With this in mind, Harris & Pudritz (1994, ApJ, 429, 177) have recently suggested that globular clusters with a range of masses are formed in pregalactic ``supergiant molecular clouds'' which grow by (coalescent) binary collisions with other clouds. We develop this idea more fully by solving for the steady-state mass distributions resulting from such coalescent encounters, with provisions made for the disruption of high-mass clouds due to star formation. Agglomeration models have been proposed in various guises to explain the mass spectra of planetesimals, stars, giant molecular clouds and their cores, and galaxies. The present theory generalizes aspects of these models, and appears able to account for the distribution of globular cluster masses at least above the so-called ``turnover'' of the globular cluster luminosity function.
American Astronomical Society Meeting Abstracts
- Pub Date:
- December 1994