We present a spectrophotometric study based on VLT/FORS I observations of one of the most metal-deficient blue compact dwarf (BCD) galaxies known, Tol 1214-277 (Z~Z☉/25). The data show that roughly half of the total luminosity of the BCD originates from a bright and compact starburst region located at the northeastern tip of a faint dwarf galaxy with cometary appearance. The starburst has ignited less than 4 Myr ago and its emission is powered by several thousand O7V stars and ∼170 late-type nitrogen Wolf-Rayet stars located within a compact region with ≲500 pc in diameter. For the first time in a BCD, a relatively strong [Fe V] λ4227 emission line is seen which together with intense He II λ4686 emission indicates the presence of a very hard radiation field in Tol 1214-277. We argue that this extraordinarily hard radiation originates from both Wolf-Rayet stars and radiative shocks in the starburst region. The structural properties of the low surface brightness (LSB) component underlying the starburst have been investigated by means of surface photometry down to 28 B mag.arcsec–2. We find that, for a surface brightness level fainter than ∼24.5 B mag.arcsec–2, an exponential fitting law provides an adequate approximation to its radial intensity distribution. The broadband colors in the outskirts of the LSB component of Tol 1214-277 are nearly constant and are consistent with an age below one Gyr. This conclusion is supported by the comparison of the observed spectral energy distribution (SED) of the LSB host with theoretical SEDs.
Galaxies: Abundances - Galaxies: Starburst - Galaxies: Stellar Content - ISM: H II Regions - Stars: Wolf-Rayet
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