” COSMIC-DANCE: understanding the origin of stellar masses”
The stellar mass distribution, or mass function, is one of the most fundamental and informative product of star formation with essential bearings on many areas of general astrophysics. Despite the tremendous progress achieved over the past decade, the study of this mass function is far from complete. We have not yet measured the minimum mass for star formation, nor the shape of the stellar mass distribution down to the least massive free-floating planets, or know how universal this shape is. Although star clusters are the building blocks of galaxies, little is known about their early dynamical evolution and dispersal into the galactic field. The main culprit for this state of affairs is the high level of contamination and incompleteness of existing stellar censuses. The COSMIC-DANCE project aims at overcoming these drawbacks and measure precisely the shape of the stellar mass distribution in young nearby star clusters and associations, down to the least massive objects. The observed mass distributions then allow us to study the respective contributions of evolutionary effects (dynamics, feedback and competitive accretion) and initial conditions (core properties) to the overall star formation processes.