Destruction of wide binary stars in low-mass elliptical galaxies: Implications for initial mass function estimates

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We discuss the effects of destruction of wide binaries in the nuclei of the lower mass giant elliptical galaxies. We show that the numbers of barium stars and extrinsic S stars should be dramatically reduced in these galaxies compared to what is seen in the largest elliptical galaxies. Given that the extrinsic S stars show strong Wing-Ford band and Na I D absorption, we argue that the recent claims of different initial mass functions from the most massive elliptical galaxies versus lower mass ellipticals may be the result of extrinsic S stars, rather than bottom-heavy initial mass function.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberslu043
Pages (from-to)L5-L8
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 2014



  • Galaxies: stellar content
  • Stars: chemically peculiar
  • Supernovae: general

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