Old Stellar Populations of the Small Magellanic Cloud Academic Article uri icon


  • We present WFPC2 and ground-based VI photometry of NGC 121 and a nearby field in the outer SMC. For NGC 121, we measure a true distance modulus of μ0 = 18.96 ± 0.04 (distance of 61.9 ± 1.1 kpc), age of 10.6 ± 0.5 Gyr, metallicity of [Fe/H] = -1.03 ± 0.06, and initial mass of 4.1 ± 0.4 × 105 M⊙, assuming a Salpeter IMF with lower cutoff at 0.1 M⊙. In the outer SMC field, we find evidence of stars covering a wide range of ages - from 2 Gyr to at least 9-12 Gyr old. We have measured the distance, extinction, and star formation history (past star formation rates and enrichment history) using a CMD-fitting algorithm. The distance modulus of the SMC is measured to be μ0 = 18.88 ± 0.08, corresponding to a distance of 59.7 ± 2.2 kpc. The overall star formation rate appears to have been relatively constant over this period, although there may be small gaps in the star-forming activity too small to be resolved. The lack of current star-forming activity is a selection effect, as the field was intentionally chosen to avoid recent activity. The mean metallicity of this field has increased from an average of [Fe/ H] = -1.3 ± 0.3 for stars older than 8 Gyr to [Fe/H] = -0.7 ± 0.2 in the past 3 Gyr. © 2001. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.

author list (cited authors)

  • Dolphin, A. E., Walker, A. R., Hodge, P. W., Mateo, M., Olszewski, E. W., Schommer, R. A., & Suntzeff, N. B

complete list of authors

  • Dolphin, Andrew E||Walker, Alistair R||Hodge, Paul W||Mateo, Mario||Olszewski, Edward W||Schommer, Robert A||Suntzeff, Nicholas B

publication date

  • January 1, 2001 11:11 AM