Analyzing starbursts using Magellanic cloud star clusters as simple stellar populations.
LEONARDI A.J. and ROSE J.A.
Abstract (from CDS):
Integrated spectra have been obtained of 31 star clusters in the Magellanic Clouds (MC) and of four Galactic globular clusters. The spectra cover the wavelength range 3500-4700 Å at a resolution of 3.2 Å FWHM. The MC clusters primarily cover the age range from less than 108 to about 3 Gyr and hence are well-suited to an empirical study of aging poststarburst stellar populations. An age-dating method is presented that relies on two spectral absorption feature indices, Hδ/Fe I λ4045 and Ca II, as well as an index measuring the strength of the Balmer discontinuity. We compare the behavior of the spectral indices in the observed integrated spectra of the MC clusters with that of indices generated from theoretical evolutionary synthesis models of varying age and metal abundance. The synthesis models are based on those of Worthey, when coupled with the combination of an empirical library of stellar spectra by Jones for the cooler stars and synthetic spectra, generated from Kurucz model atmospheres, for the hotter stars. Overall, we find good agreement between the ages of the MC clusters derived from our integrated spectra (and the evolutionary synthesis modelling of the spectral indices) and ages derived from analyses of the cluster color-magnitude diagrams, as found in the literature. Hence, the principal conclusion of this study is that ages of young stellar populations can be reliably measured from modelling of their integrated spectra.