The Stellar Content of Starburst Galaxies

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Session 37 -- Massive Hot Stars with the Hubble Space Telescope Part II
Oral presentation, Tuesday, 31, 1994, 2:00-5:30

[37.05] The Stellar Content of Starburst Galaxies

C.Leitherer (STScI)

Starburst galaxies produce massive stars at rates which are at least an order of magnitude higher than for comparable star forming regions in our Galaxy. Detection of spectral signatures due to massive, hot stars is restricted to the ultraviolet spectral region, which is inaccessible from the ground. Previous observations with the IUE satellite were limited by the low signal-to-noise and spectral resolution. Therefore a quantitative assessment of the massive star content was hardly possible. HST provides a dramatic improvement over earlier results. Typical starburst galaxies are within the reach of HST , and high-quality spectra below 2300 \AA\ have been obtained. Together with ultraviolet imaging, the HST data allows the study of the population of massive stars using line profiles of, e.g., Si~IV or C~IV. From a comparison with theoretical models the mass function and the star-formation history can be derived.

Tuesday program listing