1,036 research outputs found

    Near-infrared integral-field spectroscopy of violent starburst environments

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    Near-infrared (NIR) integral-field spectroscopy (IFS) of violent starburst environments at high spatial (and spectral) resolution has the potential to revolutionise our ideas regarding the local interactions between the newly-formed massive stars and the interstellar medium (ISM) of their host galaxies. To illustrate this point, I present NIR IFS analysis of the central starburst region of NGC 1140, obtained with CIRPASS on Gemini-South. While strong [FeII] emission is found throughout the galaxy, higher-order Brackett emission is predominantly associated with the northern starburst region. Based on the spatial distributions of the [FeII] versus Brackett line emission, I conclude that a galaxy-wide starburst was induced several x 10^7 yr ago, with more recent starburst activity concentrated around the northern starburst region. I look forward and discuss the exciting prospects that IFS at higher spatial (and spectral) resolution will allow us trace (i) the massive outflows ("superwinds") expected to originate in the dense, young massive star clusters commonly found in intense starburst environments, and (ii) their impact on the galaxy's ISM.Comment: Submitted to "Adaptive Optics-Assisted Integral-Field Spectroscopy", Rutten R.G.M., Benn C.R., Mendez J., eds., May 2005, La Palma (Spain), New Astr. Re

    Young massive star clusters: Achievements and challenges

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    In spite of significant recent and ongoing research efforts, most of the early evolution and long-term fate of young massive star clusters remain clouded in uncertainties. Here, I discuss our understanding of the initial conditions of star cluster formation and the importance of initial substructure for the subsequent dynamical-evolution and mass-segregation timescales. I also assess our current understanding of the (initial) binary fraction in star clusters and the shape of the stellar initial mass function at the low-mass end in the low-metallicity environment of the Large Magellanic Cloud. Finally, I question the validity of our assumptions leading to dynamical cluster mass estimates. I conclude that it seems imperative that observers, modellers and theorists combine efforts and exchange ideas and data freely for the field to make a major leap forward.Comment: 9 pages, 3 figures. Review talk. To appear in Proc. IAU Symp. 266 (Star clusters), eds. R. de Grijs and J. Lepin

    The global structure of galactic discs

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    A statistical study of global galaxy parameters can help to improve our understanding of galaxy formation processes. In this paper we present the analysis of global galaxy parameters based on optical and near-infrared observations of a large sample of edge-on disc galaxies. We found a correlation between the ratio of the radial to vertical scale parameter and galaxy type: galaxies become systematically thinner when going from S0's to Sc's, whereas the distribution seems to level off for later types. The observed scale length ratios (and thus the radial colour gradients) largely represent the galaxies' dust content. On average the colour gradients indicated by the scale length ratios increase from type Sa to at least type Sc. For galaxy types later than Sc, the average colour gradient seems to decrease again. The distribution of K-band (edge-on) disc central surface brightnesses is rather flat, although with a large scatter. However, the latest-type sample galaxies (T > 6) show an indication that their average disc central surface brightnesses may be fainter than those of the earlier types. This effect is probably not the result of dust extinction.Comment: 17 pages, LaTex, 11 figures, accepted for publication in MNRA

    Binaries and the dynamical mass of star clusters

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    The total mass of a distant star cluster is often derived from the virial theorem, using line-of-sight velocity dispersion measurements and half-light radii, under the implicit assumption that all stars are single (although it is known that most stars form part of binary systems). The components of binary stars exhibit orbital motion, which increases the measured velocity dispersion, resulting in a dynamical mass overestimation. In this article we quantify the effect of neglecting the binary population on the derivation of the dynamical mass of a star cluster. We find that the presence of binaries plays an important role for clusters with total mass M < 10^5 Msun; the dynamical mass can be significantly overestimated (by a factor of two or more). For the more massive clusters, with Mcl > 10^5 Msun, binaries do not affect the dynamical mass estimation significantly, provided that the cluster is significantly compact (half-mass radius < 5 pc).Comment: Comments: 2 pages. Conference proceedings for IAUS246 'Dynamical Evolution of Dense Stellar Systems', ed. E. Vesperini (Chief Editor), M. Giersz, A. Sills, Capri, Sept. 200
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