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Booms and Busts: the Burstiness of Star Formation in Nearby Dwarf Galaxies
Cole, A. A.
AA(University of Tasmania, School of Mathematics & Physics, Private Bag 37, Hobart, Tas 7001 )
Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia, Volume 27, Issue 3, pp. 234-241. (PASA Homepage)
Publication Date:
Astronomy Keywords:
galaxies: dwarf, galaxies: starburst
Abstract Copyright:
(c) 2010 Astronomical Society of Australia
Bibliographic Code:


In this review I summarise recent advances in our understanding of the importance of starburst events to the evolutionary histories of nearby galaxies. Ongoing bursts are easily diagnosed in emission-line surveys, but assessing the timing and intensity of fossil bursts requires more effort, usually demanding color-magnitude diagrams or spectroscopy of individual stars. For ages older than ~1 Gyr, this type of observation is currently limited to the Local Group and its immediate surroundings. However, if the Local Volume is representative of the Universe as a whole, then studies of the age and metallicity distributions of star clusters and resolved stellar populations should give statistical clues as to the frequency and importance of bursts to the histories of galaxies in general. Based onstarburst statistics in the literature and synthetic colour-magnitude diagram studies of Local Group galaxies, I attempt to distinguish between systemic starbursts that strongly impact galaxy evolution and stochastic bursts that can appear impressive but are ultimately of little significance on gigayear timescales. As a specific case, it appears as though IC 10, the only starburst galaxy in the Local Group, falls into the latter category and is not fundamentally different from other nearby dwarf irregular galaxies.
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