Prof. Nate Bastian
We have recently been awarded 21 orbits to image a sample of 6 interacting and starburst galaxies with the Hubble Space Telescope, covering from the UV to the near-infrared. The main goal of this project will be to study the proto-globular cluster (i.e. young super star cluster) populations within these galaxies. Using the imaging, we will be able to derive the age, mass, and extinction for each cluster to address the fundamental distributions of the populations. Questions that we would like to address are: what is the fraction of stars that form in clusters and how does this compare with more typical quiescent galaxies like the Milky Way? Can we use the cluster population to trace the history of the merger? Is there evidence for strong cluster disruption within the galaxies, and if so, how does this relate to the globular cluster populations that formed at high redshift. We will compare the results of our study with those of the LEGUS HST survey of nearby galaxies, to see how the properties of the cluster (and populations) vary with the host galaxy properties.
This project will be done in collaboration with colleagues in Stockhom, Sweden; Heidelberg, Germany; and Baltimore/Madison, USA.