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The Complex Star Formation History of NGC 1569

The Complex Star Formation History of NGC 1569

Publication date: 11 May 2005

Authors: Angeretti, L., et al.

Journal: Astronomical Journal
Volume: 129
Issue: No. 5
Page: 2203-2216
Year: 2005

Copyright: 2005. The American Astronomical Society.

We present new results on the star formation history of the dwarf irregular galaxy NGC 1569. The data were obtained with the Hubble Space TelescopeNICMOS/NIC2 in the F110W (J ) and F160W(H) near-infrared (NIR) filters and interpreted with the synthetic color-magnitude diagram method. The galaxy has experienced complex star formation (SF) activity. The best fit to the data is found by assuming three episodes of activity in the last 1-2 Gyr. The most recent and strong episode constrained by these NIR data started ~3.7x107 yr ago and ended ~1:3 x 107 yr ago, although we cannot exclude the possibility that up to three SF episodes occurred in this time interval. The average star formation rate (SFR) of the episode is ~3.2 MSun yr-1 kpc-2, in agreement with literature data. A previous episode produced stars between ~1.5x108 and ~4x107 yr ago, with a mean SFR about two-thirds lower than the mean SFR of the youngest episode. An older SF episode occurred about 1x109 yr ago. All these SFRs are 2-3 orders of magnitude higher than those derived for late-type dwarfs of the Local Group. In all cases an initial mass function similar to Salpeter's allows for a good reproduction of the data, but we cannot exclude flatter mass functions. These results have been obtained adopting a distance of 2.2 Mpc and a reddening E(B - V )=0.56. A larger distance would require younger episodes and higher SFRs.We have explored some possible scenarios using the astrated mass in the best-fit model, in order to constrain the past star formation history. We cannot rule out a low past SFR, but we can safely conclude that the last 1-2 Gyr have been peculiar.

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