Evolutionary synthesis of stellar populations: a modular tool

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A new tool for the evolutionary synthesis of stellar populations is presented, which is based on three independent matrices, giving respectively (1) the fuel consumption during each evolutionary phase as a function of stellar mass, (2) the typical temperatures and gravities during such phases, and (3) the colours and bolometric corrections as functions of gravity and temperature. The modular structure of the code allows one easily to assess the impact on the synthetic spectral energy distribution of the various assumptions and model ingredients, such as, for example, uncertainties in stellar evolutionary models, the mixing length, the temperature distribution of horizontal branch stars, asymptotic giant branch mass loss, and colour–temperature transformations. The so-called ‘AGB phase transition’ in Magellanic Cloud clusters is used to calibrate the contribution of the thermally pulsing asymptotic giant branch phase to the synthetic integrated luminosity. As an illustrative example, solar-metallicity (Y = 0.27, Z = 0.02) models, with ages ranging between 30 Myr and 15 Gyr and various choices for the slope of the initial mass function, are presented. Synthetic broad-band colours and the luminosity contributions of the various evolutionary stages are compared with Large Magellanic Cloud and Galactic globular cluster data. In all these cases, a good agreement is found. Finally, the evolution is presented of stellar mass-to-light ratios in the bolometric and UBVRK passbands, in which the contribution of stellar remnants is accounted for.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)872-892
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1998


  • stars : AGB and post-AGB
  • galaxies : evolution
  • Magellanic Clouds
  • galaxies : star clusters
  • galaxies : stellar content


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