AAS 201st Meeting, January, 2003
Session 51. Galaxy Evolution and Surveys: Modeling and Theory
Poster, Tuesday, January 7, 2003, 9:20am-6:30pm, Exhibit Hall AB

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[51.08] The Evolving Luminosity Function of the Local Group

K. Flint (Carnegie Inst. of Washington-DTM), J. Harris (Space Telescope Science Institute)

In recent years, the study of star-formation histories (SFHs) has progressed to the point that there are now quantitative SFHs published for nearly all of the ~40\ galaxies in the Local Group. These data provide a new opportunity to empirically reconstruct the evolution of the Local Group's luminosity function, over its entire history. Using SFHs from the literature and Starburst99 population synthesis code (Leitherer et al. 1999) to calculate total optical luminosities as a function of time, we characterize the extrema in the luminosity function shape, including a first-order attempt to allow for tidal mass loss and population gradients. Given that the star-formation rate in many galaxies (especially dwarfs) has been highly variable, and the fact that young populations can easily dominate a galaxy's total luminosity, the utility of the optical luminosity function as a proxy of the mass distribution is called into question.

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