Date of Award

Winter 12-2011

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Physics and Astronomy

First Advisor

Dr. H. Richard Miller

Second Advisor

Dr. Deidre A. Hunter

Third Advisor

Dr. Douglas R. Gies

Fourth Advisor

Dr. D. Michael Crenshaw

Fifth Advisor

Dr. Steven T. Manson

Abstract

The evolution and formation of dwarf galaxies has great importance to our knowledge of cosmological history from the Big Bang through the present day structure we observe in our local universe. Dwarf galaxies are believed to be the "building blocks" of larger galaxies, which implies that interactions and mergers of these small systems must have occurred frequently in the early universe. There is a population of starburst dwarf irregular (dIm) galaxies that seem to have characteristics indicative of interactions or mergers. One of these dIm galaxies is the nearby post-starburst NGC 1569. This dissertation project explores the stellar and gas kinematics of NGC 1569 as well as examines a deep neutral Hydrogen (HI) map made using the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT). From these observations, this dissertation analyzes the evolution of NGC 1569 by understanding the three-dimensional shape of this dIm system for the first time. The structure of dIm galaxies is an important fundamental, physical property necessary to understand the evolution and formation of these common systems. However, the intrinsic shape of dIm galaxies remains controversial. Projected minor-to-major axis ratios provide insucient data to determine the shapes of dIm galaxies. Fortunately, there is another method by which accurate structures can be measured. The stellar velocity dispersion, coupled with the maximum rotational velocity derived from HI observations, gives a measure of how kinematically hot a system is, and, therefore, indicates its structure. In this dissertation, we present the stellar kinematics, including the stellar velocity dispersion, of NGC 1569 obtained using the Kitt Peak National Observatory (KPNO) Mayall 4-m+Echelle spectrograph. These data are combined with an in depth analysis of high resolution HI data and a discussion of the nature of this starburst dwarf system. The dissertation concludes with a deep HI map of NGC 1569 and three of its nearest neighbors in the IC 342 galaxy group. Extended HI structures are observed in this map and are likely associated with NGC 1569. However, distinguishing if these structures are from an interaction or a merger is not possible and hydrodynamic simulations are needed. These simulations are for future work.

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