Star Formation in Sculptor Group Dwarf Irregular Galaxies and the Nature of "Transition" Galaxies

Research paper by Evan D. Skillman, Stephanie Cote, Bryan W. Miller

Indexed on: 20 Nov '02Published on: 20 Nov '02Published in: Astrophysics


We present new H-alpha narrow band imaging of the HII regions in eight Sculptor Group dwarf irregular (dI) galaxies. Comparing the Sculptor Group dIs to the Local Group dIs, we find that the Sculptor Group dIs have, on average, lower values of SFR when normalized to either galaxy luminosity or gas mass (although there is considerable overlap between the two samples). The properties of ``transition'' (dSph/dIrr) galaxies in Sculptor and the Local Group are also compared and found to be similar. The transition galaxies are typically among the lowest luminosities of the gas rich dwarf galaxies. Relative to the dwarf irregular galaxies, the transition galaxies are found preferentially nearer to spiral galaxies, and are found nearer to the center of the mass distribution in the local cloud. While most of these systems are consistent with normal dI galaxies which currently exhibit temporarily interrupted star formation, the observed density-morphology relationship (which is weaker than that observed for the dwarf spheroidal galaxies) indicates that environmental processes such as ``tidal stirring'' may play a role in causing their lower SFRs.