The star formation history of the small magellanic cloud

Jason Harris, Dennis F Zaritsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

249 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We present the spatially resolved star formation and chemical enrichment history of the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) across the entire central 4° × 4°.5 area of the main body, based on UBVI photometry from our Magellanic Clouds Photometric Survey. We find that (1) approximately 50% of the stars that ever formed in the SMC formed prior to 8.4 Gyr ago (z > 1.2 for WMAP cosmology); (2) the SMC formed relatively few stars between 8.4 and 3 Gyr ago; (3) there was a rise in the mean star formation rate during the most recent 3 Gyr punctuated by "bursts" at ages of 2.5, 0.4, and 0.06 Gyr; (4) the bursts at 2.5 and 0.4 Gyr are temporally coincident with past perigalactic passages of the SMC with the Milky Way; (5) there is preliminary evidence for a large-scale annular structure in the 2.5 Gyr burst; and (6) the chemical enrichment history derived from our analysis is in agreement with the age-metalliciry relation of the SMC's star clusters. Consistent interpretation of the data required an ad hoc correction of 0.1-0.2 mag to the B-V colors of 25% of the stars; the cause of this anomaly is unknown, but we show that it does not strongly influence our results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1531-1544
Number of pages14
JournalAstronomical Journal
Volume127
Issue number3 1779
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2004

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Magellanic clouds
star formation
histories
cosmology
history
bursts
stars
anomaly
star clusters
star formation rate
photometry
chemical
anomalies
color
causes
analysis
rate

Keywords

  • Galaxies: evolution
  • Galaxies: individual (Small Magellanic Cloud)
  • Galaxies: stellar content
  • Magellanic Clouds

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics

Cite this

The star formation history of the small magellanic cloud. / Harris, Jason; Zaritsky, Dennis F.

In: Astronomical Journal, Vol. 127, No. 3 1779, 03.2004, p. 1531-1544.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Harris, Jason ; Zaritsky, Dennis F. / The star formation history of the small magellanic cloud. In: Astronomical Journal. 2004 ; Vol. 127, No. 3 1779. pp. 1531-1544.
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