AAS 195th Meeting, January 2000
Session 67. Processes in Galaxies
Invited, Thursday, January 13, 2000, 3:40-5:10pm, Centennial I and II

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[67.02] Observing How Galaxies Make Stars

J. S. Gallagher (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

Measurements of galactic star formation rates (SFRs) are critical for understanding the properties and evolution of populations of galaxies. SFRs are derived by determining luminosities and thus masses in short-lived OB stars; total SFRs then can be calculated using the initial mass function (IMF). This talk will review major methods for measuring SFRs from observations in the UV, H-recombination lines, and FIR. Results from SFR measurements for normal disk galaxies will be presented and compared with predictions of standard theoretical models and other galactic properties. A broader issue is finding the star formation history, the variation in the SFR over time, in a galaxy. Recent observational progress towards such measurements also will be briefly considered and contrasted with results from global measurements of the mean cosmic SFR versus time.

Research support from NASA through a variety of programs for work in this area is gratefully acknowledged.

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