Department of Physics

Postgraduate research profiles


Sarah Bruzzese

Phone: (+61 8) 6488 7752


Start date

Mar 2012

Submission date

Mar 2015

Sarah Bruzzese


The initial mass function of nearby galaxies


The initial mass function (IMF) is an empirical function that describes the mass distribution of stars that form in one region at one time. Many astrophysical models are based on the assumption that the IMF is 'universal': that it does not change form in time or in different regions of the Universe. This study aims to investigate the effects on a non-universal IMF and place constraints on its form, while assuming a star formation history. This will be done by analysing Hubble Space Telescope data of resolved stellar populations in nearby galaxies and statistically comparing observations to simulations.

Why my research is important

In general any astrophysical model that relies on the evolution of stellar populations will be based on the current assumption of a universal IMF. However, recent observational results suggest that the IMF may not be universal; the IMF may have a different form in different galaxies. If it is shown that the IMF is not universal then it will have an impact on any astrophysical model that assumes a universal IMF. Not only does the form of the IMF impact models based on the evolution of stellar populations, it also plays an important role in star formation models; as any accurate model of star formation has to explain and reproduce the observed IMF.


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