Photometric and spectroscopic studies of star-forming regions within wolf-rayet galaxies

M. Chrisphin Karthick*, Ángel R. López-Sánchez, D. K. Sahu, B. B. Sanwal, Shuchi Bisht

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We present a study of the properties of star-forming regions within a sample of seven Wolf-Rayet (WR) galaxies. We analyse their morphologies, colours, star-formation rates (SFRs), metallicities and stellar populations, combining broad-band and narrow-band photometry with low-resolution optical spectroscopy. The UBVRI observations were made with the 2-m HCT (Himalayan Chandra Telescope) and 1-m ARIES telescope. The spectroscopic data were obtained using the Hanle Faint Object Spectrograph Camera (HFOSC) mounted on the 2-m HCT. The observed galaxies are NGC 1140, IRAS 07164+5301, NGC 3738, UM 311, NGC 6764, NGC 4861 and NGC 3003. The optical spectra were used to search for the faint WR features, to confirm that the ionization of the gas is caused by the massive stars, and to quantify the oxygen abundance of each galaxy using several independent empirical calibrations. We detected broad features originating in WR stars in NGC 1140 and 4861 and used them to derive the massive star populations. For these two galaxies we also derived the oxygen abundance using a direct estimation of the electron temperature of the ionized gas. The N/O ratio in NGC 4861 is ̃0.25-0.35 dex higher than expected, which may be a consequence of the chemical pollution by N-rich material released by WR stars. Using our Hα images we identified tens of star-forming regions within these galaxies, for which we derived the SFR. Our Hα-based SFR usually agrees with the SFR computed using the far-infrared and the radio-continuum flux. For all regions we found that the most recent star-formation event is 3-6 Myr old. We used the optical broad-band colours in combination with Starburst99 models to estimate the internal reddening and the age of the dominant underlying stellar population within all these regions. Knots in NGC 3738, 6764 and 3003 generally show the presence of an important old (400-1000 Myr) stellar population. However, the optical colours are not able to detect stars older than 20-50 Myr in the knots of the other four galaxies. This fact suggests that both the current intensity of the starbursts and the star-formation activity have been ongoing for at least a few tens of millions of years in these objects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-178
Number of pages22
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Volume439
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014

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