AAS 202nd Meeting, May 2003
Session 49 Future Optical/UV Astronomy from Space: Science and Mission Concepts
Topical Oral, Wednesday, May 28, 2003, 2:30-4:00 and 4:15-6:00pm, 204

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[49.03] Mapping the Star Formation History of the Local Group with NHST

T.M. Brown (Space Telescope Science Institute)

The color-magnitude diagram (CMD) is the most fundamental tool for studying the star formation history of nearby stellar populations. Strong constraints on the ages of stellar populations come from CMDs reaching the main sequence, and with the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), it is possible to produce such a CMD for stars at any distance within the Local Group. Unfortunately, resolving the main sequence in old populations beyond the satellites of the Milky Way requires an enormous investment of HST time, meaning that only a few pencil beams can be explored within the remaining HST mission. In strong contrast, an 8 meter UV-optical space telescope, diffraction limited at 0.5 microns, could map the star formation history of all galaxies in the Local Group: It would take only one hour to resolve the main sequence in any Local Group galaxy, allowing the exploration of hundreds of sight-lines in a reasonable program.

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

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© 2003. The American Astronomical Soceity.