Legacy ExtraGalactic UV Survey

LEGUS Scientific Publications

Daniela Calzetti et al. 2014
Legacy ExtraGalactic UV Survey (LEGUS) with The Hubble Space Telescope. I. Survey Description.
The Legacy ExtraGalactic UV Survey (LEGUS) is a Cycle 21 Treasury program on the Hubble Space Telescope, aimed at the investigation of star formation and its relation with galactic environment in nearby galaxies, from the scales of individual stars to those of ∼kpc–size clustered structures. Five–band imaging, from the near–ultraviolet to the I–band, with the Wide Field Camera 3, plus parallel optical imaging with the Advanced Camera for Surveys, is being collected for selected pointing of 50 galaxies within the local 12 Mpc. The multi–band images are yielding: (1) accurate recent (~50 Myr) star formation histories from resolved massive stars; and (2) the extinction–corrected ages and masses of star clusters and associations. The extensive inventories of massive stars and clustered systems will be used to investigate the spatial and temporal evolution of star formation within galaxies. This will, in turn, inform theories of galaxy evolution and improve the understanding of the physical underpinning of the gas-star formation relation and the nature of star formation at high redshift. This paper describes the survey, its goals and observational strategy, and the initial science results. Because LEGUS will provide a reference survey and a foundation for future observations with JWST and with ALMA, a large number of data products are planned for delivery to the community.

Debra Elmegreen et al. 2014
Hierarchical Star Formation in Nearby LEGUS Galaxies
Hierarchical structure in ultraviolet images of 12 late-type LEGUS galaxies is studied by determining the numbers and fluxes of nested regions as a function of size from ~1 to ~200 pc, and the number as a function of flux. Two starburst dwarfs, NGC 1705 and NGC 5253, have steeper number-size and flux-size distributions than the others, indicating high fractions of the projected areas filled with star formation. Nine subregions in 7 galaxies have similarly steep number-size slopes, even when the whole galaxies have shallower slopes. The results suggest that hierarchically structured star-forming regions several hundred parsecs or larger represent common unit structures. Small galaxies dominated by only a few of these units tend to be starbursts. The self-similarity of young stellar structures down to parsec scales suggests that star clusters form in the densest parts of a turbulent medium that also forms loose stellar groupings on larger scales. The presence of super star clusters in two of our starburst dwarfs would follow from the observed structure if cloud and stellar subregions more readily coalesce when self-gravity in the unit cell contributes more to the total gravitational potential.

Schuyler D. Van Dyk et al. 2015
LEGUS Discovery of a Light Echo Around Supernova 2012aw
We have discovered a luminous light echo around the normal Type II-Plateau Supernova (SN) 2012aw in Messier 95 (M95; NGC 3351), detected in images obtained nearly two years after explosion with the Wide Field Channel 3 onboard the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) by the Legacy ExtraGalactic Ultraviolet Survey (LEGUS). The multi-band observations span from the near-ultraviolet through the optical (F275W, F336W, F438W, F555W, and F814W). The apparent brightness of the echo at the time was ~21–22 mag in all of these bands. The echo appears as essentially a complete ring, with prominent enhanced brightness to the southeast. The SN itself was still detectable, particularly in the redder bands. We are able to model the light echo as the time-integrated SN light scattered off of diffuse interstellar dust in the SN environment. We have assumed that this dust is analogous to that in the Milky Way with RV = 3.1. The SN light curves that we consider also include models of the unobserved early burst of light from the SN shock breakout. Our analysis of the echo suggests that the distance from the SN to the scattering dust elements along the echo is ~45 pc. The implied visual extinction for the echo-producing dust is consistent with estimates made previously from the SN itself. Finally, our estimate of the SN brightness in F814W is fainter than that measured for the red supergiant star at the precise SN location in pre-SN images, possibly indicating that the star has vanished and confirming it as the likely SN progenitor.

Dimitrios A. Gouliermis et al. 2015
Hierarchical Star Formation across the ring galaxy NGC 6503
We present a detailed clustering analysis of the young stellar population across the star-forming ring galaxy NGC 6503, based on the deep HST photometry obtained with the Legacy ExtraGalactic UV Survey (LEGUS). We apply a contour-based map analysis technique and identify in the stellar surface density map 244 distinct star-forming structures at various levels of significance. These stellar complexes are found to be organized in a hierarchical fashion with 95% being members of three dominant super-structures located along the star-forming ring. The size distribution of the identified structures and the correlation between their radii and numbers of stellar members show power-law behaviors, as expected from scale-free processes. The self-similar distribution of young stars is further quantified from their autocorrelation function, with a fractal dimension of ~1.7 for length-scales between ∼20 pc and 2.5 kpc. The young stellar radial distribution sets the extent of the star-forming ring at radial distances between 1 and 2.5 kpc. About 60% of the young stars belong to the detected stellar structures, while the remaining stars are distributed among the complexes, still inside the ring of the galaxy. The analysis of the time-dependent clustering of young populations shows a significant change from a more clustered to a more distributed behavior in a time-scale of ∼60 Myr. The observed hierarchy in stellar clustering is consistent with star formation being regulated by turbulence across the ring. The rotational velocity difference between the edges of the ring suggests shear as the driving mechanism for this process. Our findings reveal the interesting case of an inner ring forming stars in a hierarchical fashion.

Accepted for publication ApJ 15SEP2015
Mark R. Krumholz et al. 2015
Star cluster properties in two LEGUS galaxies computed with stochastic stellar population synthesis models
We investigate a novel Bayesian analysis method, based on the Stochastically Lighting Up Galaxies (slug) code, to derive the masses, ages, and extinctions of star clusters from integrated light photometry. Unlike many analysis methods, slug correctly accounts for incomplete IMF sampling, and returns full posterior probability distributions rather than simply probability maxima. We apply our technique to 621 visually-confirmed clusters in two nearby galaxies, NGC628 and NGC7793, that are part of the Legacy Extragalactic UV Survey (LEGUS). LEGUS provides Hubble Space Telescope photometry in the NUV, U, B, V, and I bands. We analyze the sensitivity of the derived cluster properties to choices of prior probability distribution, evolutionary tracks, IMF, metallicity, treatment of nebular emission, and extinction curve. We find that slug’s results for individual clusters are insensitive to most of these choices, but that the posterior probability distributions we derive are often quite broad, and sometimes multi-peaked and quite sensitive to the choice of priors. In contrast, the properties of the cluster population as a whole are relatively robust against all of these choices. We also compare our results from slug to those derived with a conventional non-stochastic fitting code, Yggdrasil. We show that slug’s stochastic models are generally a better fit to the observations than the deterministic ones used by Yggdrasil. However, the overall properties of the cluster populations recovered by both codes are qualitatively similar.

Daniela Calzetti et al. 2015
The Brightest Young Star Clusters in NGC 5253
The nearby dwarf starburst galaxy NGC 5253 hosts a number of young, massive star clusters, the two youngest of which are centrally concentrated and surrounded by thermal radio emission (the “radio nebula”). To investigate the role of these clusters in the starburst energetics, we combine new and archival Hubble Space Telescope images of NGC 5253 with wavelength coverage from 1500 Å to 1.9 μm in 13 filters. These include Hα, Pβ, and Pα, and the imaging from the Hubble Treasury Program LEGUS (Legacy Extragalactic UV Survey). The extraordinarily well-sampled spectral energy distributions enable modeling with unprecedented accuracy the ages, masses, and extinctions of the nine optically brightest clusters (MV < ‑8.8) and the two young radio nebula clusters. The clusters have ages ∼1–15 Myr and masses ∼1 × 104–2.5 × 105 M⊙. The clusters’ spatial location and ages indicate that star formation has become more concentrated toward the radio nebula over the last ∼15 Myr. The most massive cluster is in the radio nebula; with a mass ∼2.5 × 105 M⊙ and an age ∼1 Myr, it is 2–4 times less massive and younger than previously estimated. It is within a dust cloud with AV ∼ 50 mag, and shows a clear near-IR excess, likely from hot dust. The second radio nebula cluster is also ∼1 Myr old, confirming the extreme youth of the starburst region. These two clusters account for about half of the ionizing photon rate in the radio nebula, and will eventually supply about 2/3 of the mechanical energy in present-day shocks. Additional sources are required to supply the remaining ionizing radiation, and may include very massive stars.


Kathryn Grasha et al. 2015
The Spatial Distribution of the Young Stellar Clusters in the Star Forming Galaxy NGC 628
We present a study of the spatial distribution of the stellar cluster populations in the star forming galaxy NGC 628. Using Hubble Space Telescope broad band WFC3/UVIS UV and optical images from the Treasury Program LEGUS (Legacy ExtraGalactic UV Survey), we have identified 1392 potential young (<100 Myr) stellar clusters within the galaxy, identified from a combination of visual inspection and automatic selection. We investigate the clustering of these young stellar clusters and quantify the strength and change of clustering strength with scale using the two-point correlation function. We also investigate how image boundary conditions and dust lanes affect the observed clustering. The distribution of the clusters is well fit by a broken power law with negative exponent α. We recover a weighted mean index of α≈-0.8 for all spatial scales below the break at 3".3 (158 pc at a distance of 9.9 Mpc) and an index of α≈-0.18 above 158 pc for the accumulation of all cluster types. The strength of the clustering increases with decreasing age and clusters older than 40 Myr lose their clustered structure very rapidly and tend to be randomly distributed in this galaxy whereas the mass of the star cluster has little effect on the clustering strength. This is consistent with results from other studies that the morphological hierarchy in stellar clustering resembles the same hierarchy as the turbulent interstellar medium.

LEGUS Posters in Scientific Meetings

Massive Young Star Clusters Near and Far: From the Milky Way to Re-ionization
Puebla, Mexico
December 2013
AAS Washington, DC
January 2014
AAS Boston, MA
June 2014
Leonardo UBEDA
Star Formation: Data, Models, and Visualization. A Harvard-Heidelberg Workshop
Heidelberg, Germany
June 2014
AAS Seatle, WA
January 2015
Schuyler VAN DYK