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Clustering of stars in nearby galaxies: probing the range of stellar structures

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Most stars form in groups, and these clusters are themselves nestled within larger associations and stellar complexes. It is not yet clear, however, whether stars cluster on preferred size scales

Most stars form in groups, and these clusters are themselves nestled within larger associations and stellar complexes. It is not yet clear, however, whether stars cluster on preferred size scales within galaxies, or if stellar groupings have a continuous size distribution. I have developed two methods to select stellar groupings across a wide range of size-scales in order to assess trends in the size distribution and other basic properties of stellar groupings. The first method uses visual inspection of color-magnitude and color-color diagrams of clustered stars to assess whether the compact sources within the potential association are coeval, and thus likely to be born from the same parentmolecular cloud. This method was developed using the stellar associations in the M51/NGC 5195 interacting galaxy system. This process is highly effective at selecting single-aged stellar associations, but in order to assess properties of stellar clustering in a larger sample of nearby galaxies, an automated method for selecting stellar groupings is needed. I have developed an automated stellar grouping selection method that is sensitive to stellar clustering on all size scales. Using the Source Extractor software package on Gaussian-blurred images of NGC 4214, and the annular surface brightness to determine the characteristic size of each cluster/association, I eliminate much of the size and density biases intrinsic to other methods. This automated method was tested in the nearby dwarf irregular galaxy NGC 4214, and can detect stellar groupings with sizes ranging from compact clusters to stellar complexes. In future work, the automatic selection method developed in this dissertation will be used to identify stellar groupings in a set of nearby galaxies to determine if the size scales for stellar clustering are uniform in the nearby universe or if it is dependent on local galactic environment. Once the stellar clusters and associations have been identified and age-dated, this information can be used to deduce disruption times from the age distribution as a function of the position of the stellar grouping within the galaxy, the size of the cluster or association, and the morphological type of the galaxy. The implications of these results for galaxy formation and evolution are discussed.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2011

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Dwarf galaxies as laboratories of protogalaxy physics: canonical star formation laws at low metallicity

Description

In the upcoming decade, powerful new astronomical facilities such as the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), the Square Kilometer Array (SKA), and ground-based 30-meter telescopes will open up the epoch

In the upcoming decade, powerful new astronomical facilities such as the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), the Square Kilometer Array (SKA), and ground-based 30-meter telescopes will open up the epoch of reionization to direct astronomical observation. One of the primary tools used to understand the bulk astrophysical properties of the high-redshift universe are empirically-derived star-forming laws, which relate observed luminosity to fundamental astrophysical quantities such as star formation rate. The radio/infrared relation is one of the more mysterious of these relations: despite its somewhat uncertain astrophysical origins, this relation is extremely tight and linear, with 0.3 dex of scatter over five orders of magnitude in galaxy luminosity. The effects of primordial metallicities on canonical star-forming laws is an open question: a growing body of evidence suggests that the current empirical star forming laws may not be valid in the unenriched, metal-poor environment of the very early universe.

In the modern universe, nearby dwarf galaxies with less than 1/10th the Solar metal abundance provide an opportunity to recalibrate our star formation laws and study the astrophysics of extremely metal-deficient (XMD) environments in detail. I assemble a sample of nearby dwarf galaxies, all within 100 megaparsecs, with nebular oxygen abundances between 1/5th and 1/50th Solar. I identify the subsample of these galaxies with space-based mid- and far-infrared data, and investigate the effects of extreme metallicities on the infrared-radio relationship. For ten of these galaxies, I have acquired 40 hours of observations with the Jansky Very Large Array (JVLA). C-band (4-8 GHz) radio continuum emission is detected from all 10 of these galaxies. These represent the first radio continuum detections from seven galaxies in this sample: Leo A, UGC 4704, HS 0822+3542, SBS 0940+544, and SBS 1129+476. The radio continuum in these galaxies is strongly associated with the presence of optical H-alpha emission, with spectral slopes suggesting a mix of thermal and non-thermal sources. I use the ratio of the radio and far-infrared emission to investigate behavior of the C-band (4-8 GHz) radio/infrared relation at metallicities below 1/10th Solar.

I compare the low metallicity sample with the 4.8 GHz radio/infrared relationship from the KINGFISHER nearby galaxy sample Tabatabaei et al. 2017 and to the 1.4 GHz radio/infrared relationship from the blue compact dwarf galaxy sample of Wu et al. 2008. The infrared/radio ratio q of the low metallicity galaxies is below the average q of star forming galaxies in the modern universe. I compare these galaxies' infrared and radio luminosities to their corresponding Halpha luminosities, and find that both the infrared/Halpha and the radio/H-alpha ratios are reduced by nearly 1 dex in the low metallicity sample vs. higher metallicity galaxies; however the deficit is not straightforwardly interpreted as a metallicity effect.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2018

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Galaxy evolution with hybrid methods

Description

I combine, compare, and contrast the results from two different numerical techniques (grid vs. particle methods) studying multi-scale processes in galaxy and structure formation. I produce a method for recreating

I combine, compare, and contrast the results from two different numerical techniques (grid vs. particle methods) studying multi-scale processes in galaxy and structure formation. I produce a method for recreating identical initial conditions for one method from those of the other, and explore methodologies necessary for making these two methods as consistent as possible. With this, I first study the impact of streaming velocities of baryons with respect to dark matter, present at the epoch of reionization, on the ability for small halos to accrete gas at high redshift. With the inclusion of this stream velocity, I find the central density profile of halos is reduced, overall gas condensation is delayed, and infer a delay in the inevitable creation of stars.

I then combine the two numerical methods to study starburst outflows as they interact with satellite halos. This process leads to shocks catalyzing the formation of molecular coolants that lead to bursts in star formation, a process that is better captured in grid methods. The resultant clumps of stars are removed from their initial dark matter halo, resemble precursors to modern-day globular clusters, and their formation may be observable with upcoming telescopes.

Finally, I perform two simulation suites, comparing each numerical method's ability to model the impact of energetic feedback from accreting black holes at the core of giant clusters. With these comparisons I show that black hole feedback can maintain a hot diffuse medium while limiting the amount of gas that can condense into the interstellar medium, reducing the central star formation by up to an order of magnitude.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2014