The recent star formation histories of M81 group dwarf irregular galaxies

Daniel R. Weisz, Evan D. Skillman, John M. Cannon, Andrew E. Dolphin, Robert C. Kennicutt, Janice Lee, Fabian Walter

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85 Scopus citations


We present observations and analysis of nine dwarf irregular galaxies (dls) in the M81 Group taken with the Advanced Camera for Surveys aboard the Hubble Space Telescope. The nine galaxies (the Garland, M81 Dwarf A, DDO 53, Ho IX, Ho I, DDO 165, NGC 2366, Ho II, and IC 2574) span 6 mag in luminosity, a factor of 1000 in current star formation rate, and 0.5 dex in metallicity. We use color-magnitude diagrams of resolved stellar populations to study the star formation histories (SFHs) of these galaxies. Dividing the sample at M B = -15, we analyze the similarities and differences in the SFHs, birthrate parameters (b), fraction of stars formed per time interval (f), and spatial distribution of stellar components. As function of luminosity, we find only minor differences in SF characteristics among the M81 Group dls despite a wide range of physical properties. We extend our comparison to select dls in the Local Group (LG) and, again, find little variation in SF parameters. Our average f parameters are consistent with a constant SFH; however, individual galaxies can show significant departures from this. We find this result underlines the importance of stochastic SF in dls. We also compare possible formation scenarios of the fainter and candidate tidal dwarfs (TDGs) in the M81 Group. The SFHs and the spatial distribution of associated red stars suggest that the Garland and Ho IX are not dls and are potentially TDGs. A noteworthy difference between the LG and the M81 Group is the lack of TDGs in the LG.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)160-183
Number of pages24
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 10 2008


  • Galaxies:dwarf
  • Galaxies:evolution
  • Galaxies:formation
  • Galaxies:stellar content

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