First stellar spectroscopy in Leo P

Evans, C. J., Castro, N., González, O. A., García, M., Bastian, N., Cioni, M. R. L., Clark, J. S., Davies, B., Ferguson, A. M. N., Kamann, S., Lennon, D. J., Patrick, L. R., Vink, J. S., Weisz, D. R. 2019. First stellar spectroscopy in Leo P. Astronomy and Astrophysics 622, DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/201834145

We present the first stellar spectroscopy in the low-luminosity (M-V similar to 9.3 mag), dwarf galaxy Leo P. Its significantly low oxygen abundance (3% solar) and relative proximity (similar to 1.6 Mpc) make it a unique galaxy in which to investigate the properties of massive stars with near-primordial compositions akin to those in the early Universe. From our VLT-MUSE spectroscopy we find the first direct evidence for an O-type star in the prominent H II region, providing an important test case to investigate the potential environmental dependence of the upper end of the initial mass function in the dwarf galaxy regime. We classify 14 further sources as massive stars (and 17 more as candidate massive stars), most likely B-type objects. From comparisons with published evolutionary models we argue that the absolute visual magnitudes of massive stars in very metal-poor systems such as Leo P and IZw 18 may be fainter by similar to 0.5 mag compared to Galactic stars. We also present spectroscopy of two carbon stars identified previously as candidate asymptotic-giant-branch stars. Two of three further candidate asymptotic-giant-branch stars display Ca II absorption, confirming them as cool, evolved stars; we also recover Ca II absorption in the stacked data of the next brightest 16 stars in the upper red giant branch. These discoveries will provide targets for future observations to investigate the physical properties of these objects and to calibrate evolutionary models of luminous stars at such low metallicity. The MUSE data also reveal two 100 pc-scale ring structures in H alpha emission, with the H II region located on the northern edge of the southern ring. Lastly, we report serendipitous observations of 20 galaxies, with redshifts ranging from z = 0.39, to a close pair of star-forming galaxies at z = 2.5.

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