Volume 407, Number 1, August III 2003
|Page(s)||75 - 90|
|Published online||17 November 2003|
Spectroscopic and photometric studies of low-metallicity star-forming dwarf galaxies *
I. SBS 1129+576
Main Astronomical Observatory, Ukrainian National Academy of Sciences, Zabolotnoho 27, Kyiv 03680, Ukraine
2 Universitäts–Sternwarte, Geismarlandstraße 11, 37083 Göttingen, Germany
3 National Optical Astronomy Observatory, Tucson, AZ 85726, USA
4 Astronomy Department, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22903, USA
Corresponding author: N. G. Guseva, firstname.lastname@example.org
Accepted: 16 May 2003
Spectroscopy and CCD photometry of the dwarf irregular galaxy SBS 1129+576 are presented for the first time. The CCD images reveal a chain of compact H ii regions within the elongated low-surface-brightness (LSB) component of the galaxy. Star formation takes place mainly in two high-surface-brightness H ii regions. The mean colour of the LSB component in the surface brightness interval between 23 and 26 mag arcsec-2 is relatively blue ~ mag, as compared to the –1.0 for the majority of known dwarf irregular and blue compact dwarf (BCD) galaxies. Spectroscopy shows that the galaxy is among the most metal-deficient galaxies with an oxygen abundance in the brightest H ii region and in the second brightest H ii region, or 1/36 and 1/28 of the solar value, respectively. Hβ and Hα emission lines and Hδ and Hγ absorption lines are detected in a large part of the LSB component. We use two extinction-insensitive methods based on the equivalent widths of (1) emission and (2) absorption Balmer lines to put constraints on the age of the stellar populations in the galaxy. In addition, we use two extinction-dependent methods based on (3) the spectral energy distribution (SED) and (4) the colour. Several scenarios of star formation were explored using all 4 methods. The observed properties of the LSB component can be reproduced by a stellar population forming continuously since 10 Gyr ago, provided that the star formation rate has increased during the last 100 Myr by a factor of 6 to 50 and no extinction is present. However, the observational properties of the LSB component in SBS 1129+576 can be reproduced equally well by continuous star formation which started not earlier than 100 Myr ago and stopped at 5 Myr, if some extinction is assumed. Hence, the ground-based spectroscopic and photometric observations are not sufficient for distinguishing between a young and an old age for SBS 1129+576.
Key words: galaxies: fundamental parameters / galaxies: starburst / galaxies: abundances / galaxies: photometry / galaxies: individual: SBS 1129+576
© ESO, 2003
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