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Session 69 - Starburst Galaxies.
Display session, Thursday, June 11
We have obtained long-slit spectroscopy of the interacting galaxies NGC 3395, NGC 3396 to investigate the propagation of star formation in tidally disturbed systems. UBVR imaging of these galaxies has shown that they contain bright, blue star-forming knots, with a range of ages and reddening. The NOAO 2.1 meter telescope was used to obtain spectroscopy of several of the knots in various galaxy environments. Preliminary analysis of the spectra reveals a variety of emission and absorption features of varying strengths, defining population differences across the galaxies. The strength of the nebular emission lines confirms that regions undergoing high rates of star formation are present.
These data will be used to investigate the amount of reddening in the knots, and to determine the ages of the youngest stars as a function of location in the galaxy. Questions to be addressed include: Does the star formation occur first in the nucleus or outer regions of the galaxies? Are there differences in the stellar populations of the star forming regions related to the local gas density, disk dynamics, or other environmental factors? Does star formation triggered by galaxy interactions produce an initial mass function biased toward massive stars? These results are part of an ongoing study of star formation in interacting galaxies that will include HST imaging and spectroscopy with the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph.
This research has been supported in part by NASA, under contract NAS5-31231.
Program listing for Thursday