PI: Monique C. Aller, University of South Carolina, email@example.com
Address: Department of Physics and Astronomy, 712 Main Street, Columbia, South Carolina 29208, USA
CoI: Varsha P. Kulkarni, University of South Carolina
CoI: James L. Higdon, Georgia Southern University
CoI: Sarah J. U. Higdon, Georgia Southern University
Title: A Multi-Wavelength Optical Imaging Study of a Unique Star-Forming Environment: Polar Rings
Abstract: In order to fully understand galaxy formation and evolution, it is essential to understand the star-formation (SF) processes occurring within galaxies. This requires studying not only SF in galaxies of regular morphology, but also locally-uncommon SF processes occurring within structures formed through mergers or accretion, which may be more prevalent at high-redshift. Polar ring galaxies (PRGs), which consist of a robustly star-forming ring of gas, dust, and stars orbiting in a plane perpendicular to the major axis of a central, host galaxy, provide such a unique SF environment. It has been hypothesized that stochastic processes, such as supernova shock propagation, stimulate the SF within the polar ring (PR). We propose to obtain Gemini GMOS imaging of 10 PRGs to trace the young stellar population in these structures. Combining these data with our existing Spitzer IRAC 3.6 and 4.5 micron data, and archival UV and HI maps, we will examine: (1) the stellar population, masses, and ages, as a function of spatial position, in the PRGs and their host galaxies; (2) the SF triggering mechanisms and gravitational stability in PRs; and (3) the opacity of the dust in PRs. We will also (4) place structural constraints on proposed PR formation mechanisms.
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