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Mass-loss via stellar-feedback driven outflows is predicted to play a critical role in the baryon cycle of low-mass galaxies. However, observational constraints on warm winds are limited as outflows are transient, intrinsically low-surface brightness events and, thus, difficult to detect. Here, we search for outflows in a sample of eleven nearby starburst dwarf galaxies which are strong candidates for outflows. Despite deep H? imaging on galaxies, only a fraction of the sample show evidence of winds. The spatial extent of all detected ionized gas is limited and would still be considered part of the ISM by simulations. These new observations indicate that the physical extent of warm phase outflows is modest and most of the mass will be recycled to the galaxy. The sample is part of the panchromatic STARBurst IRegular Dwarf Survey (STARBIRDS) designed to characterize the starburst phenomenon and its impact on the evolution of low-mass galaxies.
Efforts to determine the primordial helium abundance via observations of metal poor HII regions have been limited by significant uncertainties. Because of a degeneracy between the solutions for density and temperature, the precision of the helium abundance determinations is limited. Spectra from the literature are used to show the effects of new atomic data and to demonstrate the challenges of determining precise He abundances. Several suggestions are made for meeting these challenges.
I present an introduction to three important subjects relevant to low metallicity star formation: the IMF, stellar evolution, and star formation histories. I will draw on observations from the LCID (Local Cosmology from Isolated Dwarfs) project to illustrate some of these topics.
Recent VLA observations pointed at dwarf spheroidal (dSph) galaxies in the M 81 group reveal a hitherto hidden population of extremely low mass (~ 105 M⊙) HI clouds with no obvious optical counterparts. We have searched 10 fields in the M 81 group totalling 2.2 square degree, both targeting known dwarf spheroidal galaxies and blank fields around the central triplet. Our observations show that the new population of low–mass HI clouds appears to be confined to a region toward the south–east of the central triplet (at distances of ~ 100 kpc from M 81). Possible explanations for these free–floating HI clouds are that they are related to the dSphs found to the South–East of M 81, that they belong to the galaxies of the M 81 triplet (equivalent to HVCs), that they are of primordial nature and provide fresh, unenriched material falling into the M 81 group, or that they are tidal debris from the 3–body interaction involving M 81–M 82–NGC 3077. Based on circumstantial evidence, we currently favour the latter explanation.
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.
With the new discoveries that some dEs are rotationally supported and that dIs may show a large variety in star formation histories, the perceived relationships between these two families of galaxies are changing. There are at least three viable channels for the origin of dwarf elliptical galaxies with strong observational evidence that support their reality. I will discuss the observational evidence for each of these channels and the likely physical processes which determine each channel.
Because of the weak correlation between surface brightness and luminosity, as galaxy surveys reach to lower surface brightnesses, increasing numbers of dwarf galaxies are found. Thus, studies of dwarf galaxies are relevant to our understanding of the low surface brightness universe. In particular, studies of nearby LSB dwarfs may help to answer questions concerning: (1) star formation in low abundance and low mass surface density envrionments, (2) star formation histories of galaxies and the relative youth of LSB galaxies, and (3) the chemical evolution of LSB galaxies. HST WFPC2 photometry of the resolved stars in nearby dwarf galaxies is particularly useful for all three questions.
H II region abundances remain the best probe of current ISM abundances. Current evidence favors total mass (or luminosity) as the primary factor for determining the present day chemical abundance in both LSB and HSB galaxies. It remains possible that mass surface density (or surface brightness) may be a second controlling parameter.
Star formation in general and violent star formation in particular as observed in dwarf irregular galaxies are discussed. Emphasis is placed on those qualities of dwarf irregular galaxies that may be regarded as controversial. In particular, the conditions leading to star formation and the effects of star formation on the chemical and dynamical evolution of a dwarf irregular galaxy are discussed.
The title of this talk reflects a relatively broad reach, and I have no aspirations of achieving an all-encompassing review. To find such material, I recommend the reviews of Elmegreen (1992), Franco (1992), Hunter (1992), Kennicutt (1992), and Melnick (1992) in the proceedings of the Third Canary Islands Winter School of Astrophysics on Star Formation in Stellar Systems. Altogether, I believe that these lectures will provide an excellent background from which to discuss the problem of star formation in dwarf galaxies.
Instead, I would like to take this opportunity to discuss some of what I consider to be the points of contention one might encounter in the more lengthy reviews. To get right to the point, my discussion will take the form of a presentation of my prejudices. In preparing this talk, I was able to assemble my prejudices and review the observations and theories that led to their development. To admit that these are prejudices, I think, allows them to be openly confronted by both myself and others.
Surprisingly few Seyfert galaxies have been mapped at near optical resolution in the 21–cm line of neutral atomic hydrogen, despite the fact that studies of the gaseous component hold out the possibility of identifying the cause of infall of gas to or outflow from the central region. We therefore decided to observe the Seyfert 2 galaxy NGC 1068 with the NRAO–Very Large Array. The spatial resolution of the final images is about 8 ″ or 700 parsec at a distance of 18 Mpc; the velocity resolution is 5.2 km s−1.
New high resolution radio continuum images of the nearby irregular galaxy IC 10 have revealed a large (> 250 pc) nonthermal source. The source is roughly circular with a spectral index of ∼ –0.5, and is most likely a very large supernova remnant. Its large size suggests that it is the result of several supernovae, and may be related to the supershells observed in our own and other galaxies.
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