Colloquium

Star Formation in Dwarf Galaxies

Do cycles of violent, intense, but short-lived bursts constitute a significant mode of global star formation in dwarf galaxies? Such events can have a profound effect on galaxies, particularly those with shallow potential wells, and observational measures of their prevalence inform our understanding of a wide range of issues in galaxy evolution. In this talk, I will discuss how work based on the Local Volume Legacy Survey has built a fairly consistent picture of the average strengths, durations and frequencies of starbursts in low mass systems. The inconsistencies that remain, however, are challenging our understanding of star formation in low-density environments. I will discuss one of these challenges, which involves the an apparent discrepancy between star formation rates that are measured with the H-alpha emission line and the far ultraviolet flux. Ways of clarifying the potentially serious implications of this discrepancy will be described. I will then conclude by highlighting new efforts to place constraints on ancient starburst cycles, which occurred when the Universe was only half to a quarter of its present age, but at the height of its star formation history.

Followed by wine and cheese in Pupin 1402

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