Analysis and interpretation of astrophysical optical emission-line spectra
Loubser, Susan Ilani
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This study consists of a quantitative optical emission-line analysis of spectra from five blue compact galaxies (Zw 0855, Mrk 1267, II Zw 33, Tol 2 & Tol 3), as well as a qualitative analysis of spectra from two galactic H II regions (NGC 3603 & NGC 3576). It serves a two-fold purpose: first, to understand the CCD reduction, spectra extraction and different nebular analysis methods, together with their applications and limitations, preparatory to studies using the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) and second, to extend current star formation related research to include extragalactic starburst galaxies. The observations were carried out using the 1.9m telescope (equipped with a grating spectroscope and CCD detector) of the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO), during the period 1 to 7 March 2005. The necessary CCD data reduction, spectra extraction, wavelength and flux calibration, Doppler shift as well as reddening correction procedures were performed before the emission lines were identified and measured. A full nebular analysis, including temperature, density, metallicity (oxygen abundance) and other chemical abundance determinations, was performed on the blue compact galaxies (BCGs). Two different nebular analysis packages viz. IRAF's nebular and SNAPwere used, with all the results well within the range of values expected for metal poor BCGs. Recommendations on the different methods and their applications are made.