Volume 390, Number 2, August I 2002
|Page(s)||481 - 489|
|Section||Cosmology (including clusters of galaxies)|
|Published online||12 July 2002|
Near-infrared properties of Blue Compact Dwarf Galaxies: The link between solar and low metallicity*
ESO, Alonso de Cordova, 3107 Santiago Chile
2 IRA/CAISMI - CNR, Largo E. Fermi 5, 50125 Firenze, Italy
3 Astronomy Department, University of Virginia, Charottesville, VA 22903, USA
Corresponding author: L. Vanzi, email@example.com
Accepted: 22 May 2002
We have obtained near-infrared images and spectra of three blue compact dwarf galaxies of intermediate sub-solar metallicity Tol 35, Tol 3 and UM 462. This work is part of a larger project aimed to study the star formation and the stellar populations of low metallicity galaxies in the near-infrared. In this frame work galaxies of intermediate metallicity represent an important step in understanding the most extreme cases filling the gap between solar and very low metallicity galaxies. We have observed HII region like spectra in all three galaxies; in all cases the star formation episodes are only a few Myr old. Consistently with a young age our spectra show no evidence for stellar absorption features typical of supergiants, nor of [FeII] emission typical of supernovae. The K-band gas fraction ranges from 20 to 40% showing that gas emission can significantly contaminate broadband near-infrared colors in young metal-poor starbursts. We have detected molecular hydrogen in emission in all three objects. All sources show bright knots superimposed on a lower surface brighness envelope. The knots are identified with Super Star Clusters; six of them are present in UM 462. In all galaxies we detect the presence of an old stellar population.
Key words: galaxies: dwarf / galaxies: starburst / galaxies: stellar content / galaxies: individual: Tol 35, Tol 3, UM 462
© ESO, 2002
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