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Star formation ti mescales in M82

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Richard de Grijs reviews the picture of starbirth presented in this nearby, prototype starburst galaxy, a well-studied example of processes that must be widespread in the early universe.

The last tidal encounter between M82 and M81, some 500 Myr ago, had a major impact on what was probably an otherwise normal, quiescent disk galaxy. It caused a concentrated burst of star formation in the form of massive star clusters that decreased rapidly, within a few 100 Myr. The current starburst in the centre of the galaxy is likely to arise from large-scale propagating star formation. Alternatively, it may be related to late infall of tidally disrupted debris from M82 itself. Star formation here overall may, in fact, come from a combination of these two mechanisms, in the sense that the star formation in the active core is actively propagating, whilst the overall evolution of the starburst depends on tidal debris raining back onto the disk of the galaxy, giving rise to the present-day starburst.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2001-08-01

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