Back to Volume
Paper: Euler, Hipparcos and the Five Dwarfs : Reconstructing Star Formation Histories in the Local Group.
Volume: 211, Massive Stellar Clusters
Page: 270
Authors: Valls-Gabaud, D.; Hernandez, X.; Gilmore, G.
Abstract: The unprecedented quality of recent colour-magnitude diagrams of resolved stellar populations in nearby galaxies requires state-of-the-art techniques to infer the star formation histories which gave rise to the observed distributions. We have developed a maximum likelihood technique, which coupled to a variational calculus allows us to make a robust, non-parametric reconstruction of the evolution of the star formation rate. A full Bayesian analysis is also applied to assess whether the best solutions found are also good fits to the data. Applying this new method to WFPC2 observations of five dSph galaxies of the Local Group, we find a wide variety of star formation histories, with no particular epoch being dominant. In the case of the solar neighbourhood observed by Hipparcos we infer, with an unprecedented resolution of 50 Myr, its star formation history over the past 3 Gyr. The surprising regularity of star formation episodes separated by some 0.5 Gyr could be interpreted as the result of interactions with two spiral arms or the Galactic bar. These bursts possibly trigger the formation of massive star clusters which slowly dissolve into the galactic field.
Back to Volume