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Astron. Astrophys. 357, 397-413 (2000)

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The evolution of the stellar populations in low surface brightness galaxies

L.B. van den Hoek 1, W.J.G. de Blok *  2,3, J.M. van der Hulst 2 and T. de Jong 1,4

1 Astronomical Institute `Anton Pannekoek', Kruislaan 403, 1098 SJ Amsterdam, The Netherlands
2 Kapteyn Astronomical Institute, P.O. Box 800, 9700 AV Groningen, The Netherlands
3 Australia Telescope National Facility, P.O. Box 76, Epping NSW 1710, Australia
4 Space Research Organisation of the Netherlands, Sorbonnelaan 2, 3584 CA Utrecht, The Netherlands

Received 8 August 1999 / Accepted 3 March 2000


We investigate the star formation history and chemical evolution of low surface brightness (LSB) disk galaxies by modelling their observed spectro-photometric and chemical properties using a galactic chemical and photometric evolution model incorporating a detailed metallicity dependent set of stellar input data. For a large fraction of the LSB galaxies in our sample, observed properties are best explained by models incorporating an exponentially decreasing global star formation rate (SFR) ending at a present-day gas fraction [FORMULA] for a galaxy age of 14 Gyr. For some galaxies small amplitude star formation bursts are required to explain the contribution of the young (5-50 Myr old) stellar population to the galaxy integrated luminosity. This suggests that star formation has proceeded in a stochastic manner.

The presence of an old stellar population in many late-type LSB galaxies suggests that LSB galaxies roughly follow the same evolutionary history as HSB galaxies, except at a much lower rate . In particular, our results imply that LSB galaxies do not form late, nor have a delayed onset of star formation, but simply evolve slowly.

Key words: galaxies: evolution – galaxies: fundamental parameters – galaxies: formation – galaxies: spiral

* Bolton Fellow

Send offprint requests to: W.J.G. de Blok (edeblok@atnf.csiro.au)

© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 2000

Online publication: June 5, 2000