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Astron. Astrophys. 322, L13-L16 (1997)

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1. Introduction

Processes driving star formation and nucleosynthesis are poorly known, especially for external galaxies. For studies of such processes, the LMC offers unique possibilities. It is close enough to allow study of individual main sequence stars, it has a large spread in stellar ages and a structure permitting safe identification of different stellar populations and their properties. The LMC is thus favourable for studies of large-scale star formation and chemical evolution and for tests of current theories on the evolution of galaxies.

In the LMC, the Bar presumably dominates the chemical and dynamical evolution (Westerlund 1990), in addition to close encounters with the SMC and the Galaxy (Murai and Fujimoto 1980, Fujimoto and Murai 1984). Gravitationally dominating, the Bar is probably a motor of massive star formation (Kormendy 1981, Larson 1987). In such a scenario, clouds of gas and dust in outer parts of the galaxy are captured by the Bar and fall in its direction.

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© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 1997

Online publication: June 5, 1998

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