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Title: The star formation histories of local group dwarf galaxies. II. Searching for signatures of reionization

Abstract

We search for signatures of reionization in the star formation histories (SFHs) of 38 Local Group dwarf galaxies (10{sup 4} < M{sub *} < 10{sup 9} M{sub ☉}). The SFHs are derived from color-magnitude diagrams using archival Hubble Space Telescope/Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 imaging. Only five quenched galaxies (And V, And VI, And XIII, Leo IV, and Hercules) are consistent with forming the bulk of their stars before reionization, when full uncertainties are considered. Observations of 13 of the predicted 'true fossils' identified by Bovill and Ricotti show that only two (Hercules and Leo IV) indicate star formation quenched by reionization. However, both are within the virial radius of the Milky Way and evidence of tidal disturbance complicates this interpretation. We argue that the late-time gas capture scenario posited by Ricotti for the low mass, gas-rich, and star-forming fossil candidate Leo T is observationally indistinguishable from simple gas retention. Given the ambiguity between environmental effects and reionization, the best reionization fossil candidates are quenched low mass field galaxies (e.g., KKR 25).

Authors:
 [1];  [2];  [3];  [4]; ; ;  [5]
  1. Department of Astronomy, University of California at Santa Cruz, 1156 High Street, Santa Cruz, CA 95064 (United States)
  2. Raytheon Company, 1151 East Hermans Road, Tucson, AZ 85756 (United States)
  3. Minnesota Institute for Astrophysics, University of Minnesota, 116 Church Street SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455 (United States)
  4. Department of Astronomy, New Mexico State University, Box 30001, 1320 Frenger Street, Las Cruces, NM 88003 (United States)
  5. Department of Astronomy, University of Washington, Box 351580, Seattle, WA 98195 (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22365684
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Astrophysical Journal; Journal Volume: 789; Journal Issue: 2; Other Information: Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
79 ASTROPHYSICS, COSMOLOGY AND ASTRONOMY; COLOR; DISTURBANCES; DWARF STARS; GALAXIES; MASS; MILKY WAY; RETENTION; SPACE; STARS; TELESCOPES

Citation Formats

Weisz, Daniel R., Dolphin, Andrew E., Skillman, Evan D., Holtzman, Jon, Gilbert, Karoline M., Dalcanton, Julianne J., and Williams, Benjamin F., E-mail: drw@ucsc.edu. The star formation histories of local group dwarf galaxies. II. Searching for signatures of reionization. United States: N. p., 2014. Web. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/789/2/148.
Weisz, Daniel R., Dolphin, Andrew E., Skillman, Evan D., Holtzman, Jon, Gilbert, Karoline M., Dalcanton, Julianne J., & Williams, Benjamin F., E-mail: drw@ucsc.edu. The star formation histories of local group dwarf galaxies. II. Searching for signatures of reionization. United States. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/789/2/148.
Weisz, Daniel R., Dolphin, Andrew E., Skillman, Evan D., Holtzman, Jon, Gilbert, Karoline M., Dalcanton, Julianne J., and Williams, Benjamin F., E-mail: drw@ucsc.edu. Thu . "The star formation histories of local group dwarf galaxies. II. Searching for signatures of reionization". United States. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/789/2/148.
@article{osti_22365684,
title = {The star formation histories of local group dwarf galaxies. II. Searching for signatures of reionization},
author = {Weisz, Daniel R. and Dolphin, Andrew E. and Skillman, Evan D. and Holtzman, Jon and Gilbert, Karoline M. and Dalcanton, Julianne J. and Williams, Benjamin F., E-mail: drw@ucsc.edu},
abstractNote = {We search for signatures of reionization in the star formation histories (SFHs) of 38 Local Group dwarf galaxies (10{sup 4} < M{sub *} < 10{sup 9} M{sub ☉}). The SFHs are derived from color-magnitude diagrams using archival Hubble Space Telescope/Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 imaging. Only five quenched galaxies (And V, And VI, And XIII, Leo IV, and Hercules) are consistent with forming the bulk of their stars before reionization, when full uncertainties are considered. Observations of 13 of the predicted 'true fossils' identified by Bovill and Ricotti show that only two (Hercules and Leo IV) indicate star formation quenched by reionization. However, both are within the virial radius of the Milky Way and evidence of tidal disturbance complicates this interpretation. We argue that the late-time gas capture scenario posited by Ricotti for the low mass, gas-rich, and star-forming fossil candidate Leo T is observationally indistinguishable from simple gas retention. Given the ambiguity between environmental effects and reionization, the best reionization fossil candidates are quenched low mass field galaxies (e.g., KKR 25).},
doi = {10.1088/0004-637X/789/2/148},
journal = {Astrophysical Journal},
number = 2,
volume = 789,
place = {United States},
year = {Thu Jul 10 00:00:00 EDT 2014},
month = {Thu Jul 10 00:00:00 EDT 2014}
}
  • We present uniformly measured star formation histories (SFHs) of 40 Local Group (LG) dwarf galaxies based on color-magnitude diagram (CMD) analysis from archival Hubble Space Telescope imaging. We demonstrate that accurate SFHs can be recovered from CMDs that do not reach the oldest main sequence turn-off (MSTO), but emphasize that the oldest MSTO is critical for precisely constraining the earliest epochs of star formation. We find that: (1) the average lifetime SFHs of dwarf spheroidals (dSphs) can be approximated by an exponentially declining SFH with τ ∼ 5 Gyr; (2) lower luminosity dSphs are less likely to have extended SFHsmore » than more luminous dSphs; (3) the average SFHs of dwarf irregulars (dIrrs), transition dwarfs, and dwarf ellipticals can be approximated by the combination of an exponentially declining SFH (τ ∼ 3-4 Gyr) for lookback ages >10-12 Gyr ago and a constant SFH thereafter; (4) the observed fraction of stellar mass formed prior to z = 2 ranges considerably (80% for galaxies with M < 10{sup 5} M{sub ☉} to 30% for galaxies with M > 10{sup 7} M{sub ☉}) and is largely explained by environment; (5) the distinction between 'ultra-faint' and 'classical' dSphs is arbitrary; (6) LG dIrrs formed a significantly higher fraction of stellar mass prior to z = 2 than the Sloan Digital Sky Survey galaxies from Leitner and the SFHs from the abundance matching models of Behroozi et al. This may indicate higher than expected star formation efficiencies at early times in low mass galaxies. Finally, we provide all the SFHs in tabulated electronic format for use by the community.« less
  • We present uniformly measured star formation histories (SFHs) of 60 nearby (D {approx}< 4 Mpc) dwarf galaxies based on color-magnitude diagrams of resolved stellar populations from images taken with the Hubble Space Telescope and analyzed as part of the ACS Nearby Galaxy Survey Treasury program (ANGST). This volume-limited sample contains 12 dwarf spheroidal (dSph)/dwarf elliptical (dE), 5 dwarf spiral, 28 dwarf irregular (dI), 12 dSph/dI (transition), and 3 tidal dwarf galaxies. The sample spans a range of {approx}10 mag in M{sub B} and covers a wide range of environments, from highly interacting to truly isolated. From the best-fit SFHs, wemore » find three significant results for dwarf galaxies in the ANGST volume: (1) the majority of dwarf galaxies formed the bulk of their mass prior to z {approx} 1, regardless of current morphological type; (2) the mean SFHs of dIs, transition dwarf galaxies (dTrans), and dSphs are similar over most of cosmic time, and only begin to diverge a few Gyr ago, with the clearest differences between the three appearing during the most recent 1 Gyr; and (3) the SFHs are complex and the mean values are inconsistent with simple SFH models, e.g., single bursts, constant star formation rates (SFRs), or smooth, exponentially declining SFRs. The mean SFHs show clear divergence from the cosmic SFH at z {approx}< 0.7, which could be evidence that low-mass systems have experienced delayed star formation relative to more massive galaxies. The sample shows a strong density-morphology relationship, such that the dSphs in the sample are less isolated than the dIs. We find that the transition from a gas-rich to gas-poor galaxy cannot be solely due to internal mechanisms such as stellar feedback, and instead is likely the result of external mechanisms, e.g., ram pressure and tidal stripping and tidal forces. In terms of their environments, SFHs, and gas fractions, the majority of the dTrans appear to be low-mass dIs that simply lack H{alpha} emission, similar to Local Group (LG) dTrans DDO 210. However, a handful of dTrans have remarkably low gas fractions, suggesting that they have nearly exhausted their gas supply, analogous to LG dTrans such as Phoenix. Finally, we have also included extensive exploration of uncertainties in the SFH recovery method, including the optimization of time resolution, the effects of photometric depth, and impact of systematic uncertainties due to the limitations in current stellar evolution models.« less
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  • We use archival Hubble Space Telescope observations of resolved stellar populations to derive the star formation histories (SFHs) of 18 nearby starburst dwarf galaxies. In this first paper, we present the observations, color-magnitude diagrams (CMDs), and the SFHs of the 18 starburst galaxies, based on a homogeneous approach to the data reduction, differential extinction, and treatment of photometric completeness. We adopt a star formation rate (SFR) threshold normalized to the average SFR of the individual system as a metric for classifying starbursts in SFHs derived from resolved stellar populations. This choice facilitates finding not only the currently bursting galaxies butmore » also 'fossil' bursts increasing the sample size of starburst galaxies in the nearby (D < 8 Mpc) universe. Thirteen of the eighteen galaxies are experiencing ongoing bursts and five galaxies show fossil bursts. From our reconstructed SFHs, it is evident that the elevated SFRs of a burst are sustained for hundreds of Myr with variations on small timescales. A long >100 Myr temporal baseline is thus fundamental to any starburst definition or identification method. The longer lived bursts rule out rapid 'self-quenching' of starbursts on global scales. The bursting galaxies' gas consumption timescales are shorter than the Hubble time for all but one galaxy confirming the short-lived nature of starbursts based on fuel limitations. Additionally, we find that the strength of the H{alpha} emission usually correlates with the CMD-based SFR during the last 4-10 Myr. However, in four cases, the H{alpha} emission is significantly less than what is expected for models of starbursts; the discrepancy is due to the SFR changing on timescales of a few Myr. The inherently short timescale of the H{alpha} emission limits identifying galaxies as starbursts based on the current characteristics which may or may not be representative of the recent SFH of a galaxy.« less
  • We consider the effects of non-constant star formation histories (SFHs) on H{alpha} and GALEX far-ultraviolet (FUV) star formation rate (SFR) indicators. Under the assumption of a fully populated Chabrier initial mass function (IMF), we compare the distribution of H{alpha}-to-FUV flux ratios from {approx}1500 simple, periodic model SFHs with observations of 185 galaxies from the Spitzer Local Volume Legacy survey. We find a set of SFH models that are well matched to the data, such that more massive galaxies are best characterized by nearly constant SFHs, while low-mass systems experience burst amplitudes of {approx}30 (i.e., an increase in the SFR bymore » a factor of 30 over the SFR during the inter-burst period), burst durations of tens of Myr, and periods of {approx}250 Myr; these SFHs are broadly consistent with the increased stochastic star formation expected in systems with lower SFRs. We analyze the predicted temporal evolution of galaxy stellar mass, R-band surface brightness, H{alpha}-derived SFR, and blue luminosity, and find that they provide a reasonable match to observed flux distributions. We find that our model SFHs are generally able to reproduce both the observed systematic decline and increased scatter in H{alpha}-to-FUV ratios toward low-mass systems, without invoking other physical mechanisms. We also compare our predictions with those from the Integrated Galactic IMF theory with a constant SFR. We find that while both predict a systematic decline in the observed ratios, only the time variable SFH models are capable of producing the observed population of low-mass galaxies (M{sub *} {approx}< 10{sup 7} M{sub Sun }) with normal H{alpha}-to-FUV ratios. These results demonstrate that a variable IMF alone has difficulty explaining the observed scatter in the H{alpha}-to-FUV ratios. We conclude by considering the limitations of the model SFHs and discuss the use of additional empirical constraints to improve future SFH modeling efforts.« less