AAS 203rd Meeting, January 2004
Session 122 Antenna Galaxies
Poster, Thursday, January 8, 2004, 9:20am-4:00pm, Hanover Hall

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[122.08] Luminous Blue Compacts: Galaxy Evolution Templates

M. N. Fanelli, H. Appleby (University of North Texas), P. M. Marcum (Texas Christian University)

Luminous Blue Compacts: Galaxy Evolution Templates

We describe a program to explore the structural properties and evolutionary history of luminous (M[B] < -18.5) blue compact galaxies (LBCGs) in the nearby universe. LBCGs are systems undergoing an episode of enhanced massive star formation, based on their blue colors and UV/optical spectra. Their total luminosities indicate that 105 to 107 massive stars have formed within the last 10-20 Myr. Due to the scale of this star formation, LBCGs appear to be the best analogs in the nearby universe to the early evolutionary phases of most galaxies. Their value is that these systems can be studied at many wavelengths with high spatial and spectral resolution, unlike extremely distant systems, which are faint and subtend a few arcseconds, requiring observations with the largest telescopes. LBCGs are both powerful star formation engines, yet not heavily obscured, permitting direct detection of the starburst populations, given sufficient spatial resolution. The processes of galaxy assembly can be examined in great detail.

We have initiated an optical/NIR imaging survey of ~100 LBCGs, using the 2.1m at McDonald Observatory. Analysis of these images provides insight on their structural and photometric properties, helps quantify the formation rate and distribution of recently-formed stars, and assesses the degree to which these systems are interacting with nearby galaxies. We will report on the sample, their optical morphologies, thermal infrared properties, and compare representative LBCGs to well-studied starburst systems.

Support for this project has been provided by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, through its Advanced Research Program.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: fanelli@unt.edu

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 35#5
© 2003. The American Astronomical Soceity.