ARlogo Annu. Rev. Astron. Astrophys. 1998. 36: 435-506
Copyright © 1998 by Annual Reviews. All rights reserved

Reprinted with kind permission from Annual Reviews, 4139 El Camino Way, Palo Alto, California, USA

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Mario Mateo

Department of Astronomy, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-1090;

Abstract. The Local Group dwarf galaxies offer a unique window to the detailed properties of the most common type of galaxy in the Universe. In this review, I update the census of Local Group dwarfs based on the most recent distance and radial velocity determinations. I then discuss the detailed properties of this sample, including (a) the integrated photometric parameters and optical structures of these galaxies, (b) the content, nature, and distribution of their interstellar medium (ISM), (c) their heavy-element abundances derived from both stars and nebulae, (d) the complex and varied star-formation histories of these dwarfs, (e) their internal kinematics, stressing the relevance of these galaxies to the "dark matter problem" and to alternative interpretations, and (f) evidence for past, ongoing, and future interactions of these dwarfs with other galaxies in the Local Group and beyond. To complement the discussion and to serve as a foundation for future work, I present an extensive set of basic observational data in tables that summarize much of what we know and do not know about these nearby dwarfs. Our understanding of these galaxies has grown impressively in the past decade, but fundamental puzzles remain that will keep the Local Group at the forefront of galaxy evolution studies for some time.

Key Words: stellar populations, Local Group galaxies, photometry, galaxy formation, spectroscopy, dark matter, interstellar medium

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