The Star Formation & Chemical Evolution timescales of two nearby dwarf spheroidal galaxies
We present the detailed Star Formation History of the nearby Sculptor and Fornax dwarf spheroidal galaxies, from wide-field photometry of resolved stars, going down to the oldest Main Sequence Turn-Off. The accurately flux calibrated, wide-field Colour-Magnitude Diagrams are used directly in combination with spectroscopic metallicities of individual RGB stars to constrain the ages of different stellar populations, and derive the Star Formation History with particular accuracy.
The detailed Star Formation History shows the star formation at different ages and metallicities, at different positions in the galaxy, and shows that the known metallicity gradients are well matched to an age gradient. The obtained SFH is used to determine accurate age estimates for individual RGB stars, for which spectroscopic abundances (alpha-elements, r- and s-process elements) are known. In this way, we obtain the accurate age-metallicity relation of each galaxy, as well as the temporal evolution of alpha-element abundances.
This allows us to study, for the first time, the timescale of chemical evolution in these two dwarf galaxies, and determine an accurate age of the "knee" in the alpha-element distribution. Finally, we compare the timescale of chemical evolution in both dwarf galaxies, and determine whether the chemical abundance patterns seen in galaxies with recent episodes of star formation are a direct continuation of those with only old populations.
About the talk
Kapteyn Astronomical Institute Groningen, The Netherlands