Old stellar populations of the small magellanic cloud

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)303-313
Number of pages11
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1 PART I
StatePublished - 2001


  • Galaxies: evolution
  • Galaxies: stellar content
  • Magellanic Clouds

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Old stellar populations of the small magellanic cloud'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this