Supergiant Stars as Extragalactic Probes of Cosmic Abundances and Distances
The determination of chemical composition and distances of galaxies is crucial for constraining the theory of galaxy formation and evolution in a dark energy and cold dark matter dominated universe. However, the standard technique using HII regions to determine the metallicity of star forming galaxies, nearby and at high redshift, is subject to large systematic uncertainties that are poorly understood and the determinination of accurate distances using Cepheids suffers from uncertainties caused by the metallicity dependence of the period luminosity relationship and extinction and crowding corrections. Multi-object spectroscopy of blue and red supergiant stars - the brightest stars in the universe at visual and NIR wavelengths - provides an attractive alternative. I will present results accumulated over recent years for galaxies in the Local Group and beyond out to a distance of 8 Mpc and will discuss the potential of future work with TMT and E-ELT. Combining the photon collecting power of these next generation telescopes with Adaptive Optics we will be able to study individual supergiant stars in galaxies as distant as the Coma cluster. With spectroscopy of the integrated light of young very massive Star Super Clusters and simple population synthesis techniques we can reach out ten times further.
About the talk
Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawaii at Manoa