Journal Article

Auto-consistent metallicity and star formation history of the nearest blue compact dwarf galaxy NGC 6789

R. García-Benito and E. Pérez-Montero

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 423, issue 1, pages 406-421
Published in print June 2012 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online May 2012 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
Auto-consistent metallicity and star formation history of the nearest blue compact dwarf galaxy NGC 6789

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We present a detailed auto-consistent study of the nearest blue compact dwarf galaxy NGC 6789 by means of optical and ultraviolet (UV) archive photometry data and optical long-slit Intermediate dispersion Spectrograph and Imaging System-William Herschel Telescope (WHT) spectroscopy observations of the five brightest star-forming knots. The analysis of the spectra in all knots allowed the derivation of ionic chemical abundances of oxygen, nitrogen, sulphur, argon and neon using measures of both the high- and low-excitation electron temperatures, leading to the conclusion that NGC 6789 is chemically homogeneous with low values of the abundance of oxygen in the range 12+log(O/H) = 7.80–7.93, but presenting at the same time higher values of the nitrogen-to-oxygen ratio than expected for its metal regime.

We used archival Hubble Space Telescope/Wide-Field Planetary Camera 2 (HST/WFPC2) F555W and F814W observations of NGC 6789 to perform a photometric study of the colour–magnitude diagram (CMD) of the resolved stellar populations and derive its star formation history (SFH), which is compatible with the presence of different young and old stellar populations whose metallicities do not necessarily increase with age. We fit the observed optical spectrum in all the five knots using the starlight code and a combination of single stellar populations following the SFH obtained from the CMD. We compare the resulting stellar masses and the relative fractions of the ionizing populations with a non-constrained SFH case. The properties of the younger populations were obtained using cloudy photoionization models, giving similar ages in all the knots in the range 3–6 Myr and the estimation of the dust absorption factor, which correlates with the observed GALEX far-ultraviolet–near-ultraviolet colour indices. The total photometric extinction and dust-absorption corrected Hα fluxes were finally used to derive the star formation rates.

Keywords: Hertzsprung–Russell and colour–magnitude diagrams; ISM: abundances; galaxies: dwarf; galaxies: individual: NGC 6789; galaxies: starburst; galaxies: star formation

Journal Article.  11878 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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