Physics Student Research

Title

Probing Stellar Populations in the Virgo and Fornax Clusters with Infrared Surface Brightness Fluctuations

Document Type

Presentation

Publisher

American Astrononical Society

Location

Boston, MA

Publication Date

6-1-2014

Abstract

Surface brightness fluctuations (SBF) are a useful tool for measuring extragalactic distances. At infrared wavelengths, SBF break the age-metallicity degeneracy and are useful for probing the properties of the most luminous stars in a galaxy, even when individual stars are not resolved. We present a detailed comparison of F110W and F160W SBF measurements made using the Hubble Space Telescope WFC3/IR camera to a variety of stellar population models, including those with solar-scaled and alpha-enhanced compositions and models incorporating convective core overshoot for younger populations. We use these model comparisons to assess the star formation histories of 16 galaxies spanning a wide range in color and luminosity in the Virgo and Fornax clusters, measured as a function of distance from the galaxy center in elliptical apertures. We discuss the implications of population variations on the fluctuation magnitudes and distance measurements.

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