The initial mass function and star formation law in the outer disc of NGC 2915

Sarah Bruzzese, Gerhardt Meurer, Claudia Lagos Urbina, E.C. Elson, J.K. Werk, J.P. Blakeslee, H.C. Ford

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    © 2014 The Authors. Using Hubble Space Telescope (HST) Advanced Camera for Surveys/Wide Field Camera data we present the photometry and spatial distribution of resolved stellar populations in the outskirts of NGC 2915, a blue compact dwarf with an extended H I disc. These observations reveal an elliptical distribution of red giant branch stars, and a clumpy distribution of mainsequence stars that correlate with the H I gas distribution. We constrain the upper-end initial mass function (IMF) and determine the star formation law(SFL) in this field, using the observed main-sequence stars and an assumed constant star formation rate. Previously published Hα observations of the field, which show one faint H II region, are used to provide further constraints on the IMF. We find that the main-sequence luminosity function analysis alone results in a best-fitting IMF with a power-law slope α = -2.85 and upper-mass limit Mu = 60M. However, if we assume that all Hα emission is confined to H II regions then the upper-mass limit is restricted to Mu 20M. For the luminosity function fit to be correct, we have to discount the Hα observations implying significant diffuse ionized gas or escaping ionizing photons. Combining the HST photometry with H I imaging, we find the SFL has a power-law index N = 1.53 ± 0.21. Applying these results to the entire outer H I disc indicates that it contributes 11-28 per cent of the total recent star formation in NGC 2915, depending on whether the IMF is constant within the disc or varies from the centre to the outer region.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)618-635
    JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


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