Panchromatic Observations of Dwarf Starburst Galaxies: Infant Superstar Clusters and a Low-luminosity AGN

Reines, Amy Ellen, Department of Astronomy, University of Virginia
Johnson, Kelsey, Department of Astronomy, University of Virginia

Globular star clusters and supermassive black holes are fundamental components of today's massive galaxies, with origins dating back to the very early universe. Both globular clusters and the seeds of supermassive black holes are believed to have formed in the progenitors of modern massive galaxies, although the details are poorly understood. Direct observations of these low-mass, distant, and hence faint systems are unobtainable with current capabilities. However, gas-rich dwarfstarburstgalaxies in the local universe, analogous in many ways to protogalaxies at high-redshift, can provide critical insight into the early stages of galaxy evolution including the formation of globular clusters and massive black holes. This thesis presents a panchromatic study of nearby dwarf starburst galaxies harboring nascent globular clusters still embedded in their birth material. Infant clusters are identified via their production of thermal radio emission at centimeter wavelengths, which comes from dense gas ionized by young massive stars. By combining radio observations withcomplementary data at ultraviolet, optical and infrared wavelengths, we obtain a comprehensive view of massive clusters emerging from their gaseous and dusty birth cocoons. This thesis also presents the first example of a nearby dwarf starburst galaxy hosting an actively accreting massive central black hole. The black hole in this dwarf galaxy is unusual in that it is not associated with a bulge, a nuclear star cluster,oranyotherwell-defined nucleus, likely reflecting an early phase of black hole and galaxy evolution that has not been previously observed.

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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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