AAS 200th meeting, Albuquerque, NM, June 2002
Session 46. Astrophysics in the Local Group
Display, Tuesday, June 4, 2002, 10:00am-6:30pm, SW Exhibit Hall

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[46.08] Chemical Abundances in the Stellar Populations of the Leo I and Leo II dSph Galaxies

T. L. Bosler, T. A. Smecker-Hane (UCI), P. B. Stetson (NRC/HIA/DAO)

Our goal is to map the chemical abundance distribution of the stellar populations of the Leo I and Leo II dwarf spheroidal (dSph) galaxies to constrain the physical processes that regulate their evolution. The dSphs are particularly interesting galaxies because their star formation histories (SFHs) appear to be much more complicated than theory would predict for such low mass, low luminosity, low surface-brightness galaxies. Color-magnitude diagrams (CMDs) of these dSphs have shown that they formed stars over many Gyr. In order to understand the true spread in stellar ages and chemical abundances we need more precise abundance indicators than can be inferred from CMD analysis: abundances based upon the broad-band colors of red giants are subject to large systematic errors because of limitations in convection theory, and poorly determined color--effective temperature relations produce sizable uncertainties in the derived shapes of theoretical red giant branches. Therefore we are measuring the abundance distribution of the Leo I and Leo II dSphs from spectroscopy of individual red giant stars using the Ca II absorption lines in the near infrared (8498, 8542, and 8662 Å). Our observations are made on the Keck I 10-meter Telescope using the Low Resolution Imaging Spectrometer. One night of successful observations yielded spectra of approximately 40 stars in each dSph from which abundances with random uncertainties of \approx 0.1 dex will be derived. Calibration of the Ca II strengths to [Fe/H] has been done by Rutledge, et al. (1997, PASP, 109, 907) using Galactic globular clusters. We are also deriving a new calibration for [Ca/H]. This new calibration will remove the dependence on SFH built into the Rutledge, et al. calibration, i.e., the assumptions of a unique age for the system and a Galactic [Ca/Fe]--[Fe/H] relationship.

Financial support for this project was provided by NSF grant AST-0070985 to TSH, and an ARCS Foundation fellowship to TB.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: tbosler@fornax.ps.uci.edu

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 34
© 2002. The American Astronomical Soceity.