443 research outputs found

    The most metal-poor galaxies

    Full text link
    Metallicity is a key parameter that controls many aspects in the formation and evolution of stars and galaxies. In this review we focus on the metal deficient galaxies, in particular the most metal-poor ones, because they play a crucial role in the cosmic scenery. We first set the stage by discussing the difficult problem of defining a global metallicity and how this quantity can be measured for a given galaxy. The mechanisms that control the metallicity in a galaxy are reviewed in detail and involve many aspects of modern astrophysics: galaxy formation and evolution, massive star formation, stellar winds, chemical yields, outflows and inflows etc. Because metallicity roughly scales as the galactic mass, it is among the dwarfs that the most metal-poor galaxies are found. The core of our paper reviews the considerable progress made in our understanding of the properties and the physical processes that are at work in these objects. The question on how they are related and may evolve from one class of objects to another is discussed. While discussing metal-poor galaxies in general, we present a more detailed discussion of a few very metal-poor blue compact dwarf galaxies like IZw18. Although most of what is known relates to our local universe, we show that it pertains to our quest for primeval galaxies and is connected to the question of the origin of structure in the universe. We discuss what QSO absorption lines and known distant galaxies tell us already? We illustrate the importance of star-forming metal-poor galaxies for the determination of the primordial helium abundance, their use as distance indicator and discuss the possibility to detect nearly metal-free galaxies at high redshift from Lyα\alpha emission.Comment: 96 pages, 12 figures. To appear in the A&A Review. Version including proof correction

    High Carbon in I Zwicky 18: New Results from Hubble Space Telescope Spectroscopy

    Get PDF
    We present new measurements of the gas-phase C/O abundance ratio in both the NW and SE components of the extremely metal-poor dwarf irregular galaxy I Zw 18, based on ultraviolet spectroscopy of the two H II regions using the Faint Object Spectrograph on the Hubble Space Telescope. We determine values of log C/O = -0.63 +/- 0.10 for the NW component and log C/O = -0.56 +/- 0.09 for the SE component. In comparison, log C/O = -0.37 in the sun, while log C/O = -0.85 +/- 0.07 in the three most metal-poor irregular galaxies measured by Garnett et al. (1995a). Our measurements show that C/O in I Zw 18 is significantly higher than in other comparably metal-poor irregular galaxies, and above predictions for the expected C/O from massive star nucleosynthesis. These results suggest that carbon in I Zw 18 has been enhanced by an earlier population of lower-mass carbon producing stars; this idea is supported by stellar photometry of I Zw 18 and its companion, which demonstrate that the current bursts of massive stars were not the first. Despite its very low metallicity, it is likely that I Zw 18 is not a ``primeval'' galaxy.Comment: 14 pages including 4 figures; uses aaspp4.sty. Accepted for publication in ApJ. Postscript version also available by e-mail request to author at [email protected]

    Extended Tidal Structure In Two Lyman Alpha-Emitting Starburst Galaxies

    Full text link
    We present new VLA C-configuration HI imaging of the Lyman Alpha-emitting starburst galaxies Tol 1924-416 and IRAS 08339+6517. The effective resolution probes neutral gas structures larger than 4.7 kpc in Tol 1924-416, and larger than 8.1 kpc in IRAS 08339+6517. Both systems are revealed to be tidally interacting: Tol 1924-416 with ESO 338-IG04B (6.6 arcminutes = 72 kpc minimum separation), and IRAS 08339+6517 with 2MASX J08380769+6508579 (2.4 arcminutes = 56 kpc minimum separation). The HI emission is extended in these systems, with tidal tails and debris between the target galaxies and their companions. Since Lyman Alpha emission has been detected from both of these primary systems, these observations suggest that the geometry of the ISM is one of the factors affecting the escape fraction of Lyman Alpha emission from starburst environments. Furthermore, these observations argue for the importance of interactions in triggering massive star formation events.Comment: ApJ, in press; 11 pages, 2 color figure

    POX 186: the ultracompact Blue Compact Dwarf Galaxy reveals its nature

    Full text link
    High resolution, ground based R and I band observations of the ultra compact dwarf galaxy POX 186 are presented. The data, obtained with the ESO New Technology Telescope (NTT), are analyzed using a new deconvolution algorithm which allows one to resolve the innermost regions of this stellar-like object into three Super-Star Clusters (SSC). Upper limits to both masses (M\sim 10^5 M_{\odot}) and the physical sizes (\le 60pc) of the SSCs are set. In addition, and maybe most importantly, extended light emission underlying the compact star-forming region is clearly detected in both bands. The R-I color rules out nebular H\alpha contamination and is consistent with an old stellar population. This casts doubt on the hypothesis that Blue Compact Dwarf Galaxies (BCDG) are young galaxies.Comment: 4 figures postscript, 2 tables, to appear in A&A main journa

    HST observations of the blue compact dwarf SBS 0335-052: a probable young galaxy

    Get PDF
    We present HST WFPC2 V and I images and GHRS UV spectrophotometry of the spectral regions around Lyalpha_alpha and OI 1302 of the extremely metal-deficient (Z~Zsun/41) blue compact dwarf (BCD) galaxy SBS 0335-052. All the star formation in the BCD occurs in six super-star clusters (SSC) with ages =< 3-4 Myr. Dust is clearly present and mixed spatially with the SSCs. There is a supershell of radius ~380 pc, delineating a large supernova cavity. The instantaneous star formation rate is ~0.4 Msun yr^-1. Strong narrow Lyα\alpha emission is not observed. Rather there is low intensity broad (FWZI = 20 A) Lyα\alpha emission superposed on even broader Lyα\alpha absorption by the HI envelope. This broad low-intensity emission is probably caused by resonant scattering of Lyα\alpha photons. The BCD appears to be a young galaxy, undergoing its very first burst of star formation. This conclusion is based on the following evidence: 1) the underlying extended low-surface-brightness component is very irregular and filamentary, suggesting that a significant part of the emission comes from ionized gas; 2) it has very blue colors (-0.34 =< (V-I)0_0 =< 0.16), consistent with gaseous emission colors; 3) the OI 1302 line is not detected in absorption in the GHRS spectrum, setting an upper limit for N(O)/N(H) in the HI envelope of the BCD of more than 3000 times smaller than the value in Orion.Comment: 20 pages and 6 Postscript figures. Submitted to Astrophysical Journa

    Rest-Frame Ultraviolet Spectra of z~3 Lyman Break Galaxies

    Full text link
    We present the results of a systematic study of the rest-frame UV spectroscopic properties of Lyman Break Galaxies (LBGs). The database of almost 1000 LBG spectra proves useful for constructing high S/N composite spectra. The composite spectrum of the entire sample reveals a wealth of features attributable to hot stars, HII regions, dust, and outflowing neutral and ionized gas. By grouping the database according to galaxy parameters such as Lyman-alpha equivalent width, UV spectral slope, and interstellar kinematics, we isolate some of the major trends in LBG spectra which are least compromised by selection effects. We find that LBGs with stronger Lyman-alpha emission have bluer UV continua, weaker low-ionization interstellar absorption lines, smaller kinematic offsets between Lyman-alpha and the interstellar absorption lines, and lower star-formation rates. There is a decoupling between the dependence of low- and high-ionization outflow features on other spectral properties. Most of the above trends can be explained in terms of the properties of the large-scale outflows seen in LBGs. According to this scenario, the appearance of LBG spectra is determined by a combination of the covering fraction of outflowing neutral gas which contains dust, and the range of velocities over which this gas is absorbing. Higher sensitivity and spectral resolution observations are still required for a full understanding of the covering fraction and velocity dispersion of the outflowing neutral gas in LBGs, and its relationship to the escape fraction of Lyman continuum radiation in galaxies at z~3.Comment: 28 pages including 17 figures. Accepted for publication in Ap