The range of validity of cluster masses and ages derived from broad-band photometry

Maíz Apellániz, J.
Star clusters: basic galactic building blocks throughout time and space, Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union, IAU Symposium, Volume 266, p. 100-105


I analyze the stochastic effects introduced by sampling the stellar initial mass function (SIMF) in the derivation of the individual masses and the cluster mass function (CMF) from broad-band visible/near-infrared unresolved photometry. The classical method of using unweighted U BV photometry to simultaneously establish ages and extinctions of stellar clusters is found to be unreliable for clusters older than ≈30 Myr, even for relatively large cluster masses. On the other hand, augmenting the filter set to include longer-wavelength filters and using weights for each filter increases the range of masses and ages that can be measured accurately with unresolved photometry. Nevertheless, a relatively large range of masses and ages is found to be dominated by SIMF sampling effects that render the observed masses useless, even when using U BV RI JHK photometry.