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The Recent Star Formation Histories of Nearby Galaxies

  • Evan D. Skillman (a1), John M. Cannon (a2), Andrew E. Dolphin (a3) (a4), Robert C. Kennicutt (a4) (a5), Janice C. Lee (a6), Fabian Walter (a7) and Daniel R. Weisz (a1)...

Abstract

Recent (≤ 0.5 Gyr) star formation histories have a large impact on the observable properties of galaxies. Using HST/ACS observations, we have used the blue helium burning (BHeB) stars to construct spatially resolved star formation histories of M81 group dwarf galaxies with a time resolution of roughly 30 Myr over the last 500 Myr. We have designed a sample of ten galaxies spanning ranges of 6 magnitudes in luminosity, 1000 in current star formation rate, and 0.5 dex in metallicity. The ACS observations allow us to directly observe the strength and spatial relationships of all of the recent star formation in these galaxies. These observations are complemented by high-quality ancillary data (e.g., Spitzer, UV/optical/H-alpha/NIR, VLA HI). Our resolved star formation maps will be compared with star formation rates inferred from H-alpha, UV, and IR observations – allowing an independent calibration of these techniques. Given the ranges in metallicity, these observations will provide calibrations of stellar evolution tracks for young, low metallicity stars. These observations will also enable us to construct prescriptions of how star formation and feedback depend on metallicity, size, gas content, and current star formation rates in galaxies. Finally, I note that the new observations becoming available as a part of the ANGST (ACS Nearby Galaxies Survey Treasury Program) will allow a large number of dwarf galaxies to be analyzed in this way.

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