AAS 199th meeting, Washington, DC, January 2002
Session 49. Starburst Galaxies
Display, Tuesday, January 8, 2002, 9:20am-6:30pm, Exhibit Hall

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[49.05] A Comparative Study of Star Cluster Populations in Nearby Starburst Galaxies

J. Harris, D. Calzetti (STScI), J. S. Gallagher, III (Univ. of Wisconsin), D. A. Smith (STScI), C. J. Conselice (Caltech)

We are undertaking a comprehensive study of the recent star-formation histories of nearby starburst galaxies, using both broad- and narrow-band HST/WFPC2 imaging. Our goal is to understand the physical processes which drive galaxy evolution, with a particular focus on the starburst phenomenon, and on the role that environment plays in determining a galaxy's star formation history.

For this purpose, we have selected a sample of four nearby galaxies which are host to very similar nuclear starbursts, despite a wide range in their mass, metallicity, and environment. Our multiwavelength HST observations of each galaxy allow us to: (1) use their cluster populations as tracers of the recent star-formation history; (2) map the distribution of dust; and (3) study the energetic star formation feedback by examining the shocked and photoionized gas in these systems. By studying nearby systems in detail, we hope to provide a foundation with which more distant, unresolved star forming galaxies can be understood.

Our cluster-based star-formation histories have already been published for NGC~5253 and M~83; in this paper, we present preliminary results of our analysis of the clusters in the remaining galaxies (NGC~3077 and NGC~4214). In addition, we compare the star-formation histories of all four galaxies, and examine trends with mass, metallicity and environment.

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

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