Metallicity gradients in disks
Do galaxies form inside-out?
K. Pilkington1,2,3⋆, C. G. Few1,2⋆, B. K. Gibson1,2,3, F. Calura1,4, L. Michel-Dansac5, R. J. Thacker2, M. Mollá1,6, F. Matteucci7, A. Rahimi8, D. Kawata8, C. Kobayashi9, C. B. Brook1,10, G. S. Stinson1,11, H. M. P. Couchman12, J. Bailin13 and J. Wadsley12
1 Jeremiah Horrocks Insitute, University of Central Lancashire, Preston PR1 2HE, UK
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
2 Department of Astronomy & Physics, Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, B3H 3C3, Canada
3 Monash Centre for Astrophysics, School of Mathematical Sciences, Monash University, Clayton, 3800 Victoria, Australia
4 INAF, Osservatorio Astronomico di Bologna, via Ranzani 1, 40127 Bologna, Italy
5 Centre de Recherche Astrophysique de Lyon, Université de Lyon, Université Lyon 1, Observatoire de Lyon, École Normale Supérieure de Lyon, CNRS, UMR 5574, 9 avenue Charles André, 69230 Saint-Genis Laval, France
6 Departamento de Investigación Básica, CIEMAT, Avda. Complutense 22, 28040 Madrid, Spain
7 Departimento di Fisica, Sezione di Astronomia, Università di Trieste, via G.B. Tiepolo 11, 34131 Trieste, Italy
8 Mullard Space Science Laboratory, University College London, Holmbury St. Mary, Dorking, Surrey, RH5 6NT, UK
9 Centre for Astrophysics Research, University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, AL10 9AB, UK
10 Departamento de Física Teórica, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Cantoblanco, 28049 Madrid, Spain
11 Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie, Königstuhl 17, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany
12 Department of Physics and Astronomy, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, L8S 4M1, Canada
13 Astronomy Department, University of Michigan, 500 Church St., Ann Arbor, MI, 48109-1042, USA
Received: 12 June 2011
Accepted: 29 January 2012
Aims. We examine radial and vertical metallicity gradients using a suite of disk galaxy hydrodynamical simulations, supplemented with two classic chemical evolution approaches. We determine the rate of change of gradient slope and reconcile the differences existing between extant models and observations within the canonical “inside-out” disk growth paradigm.
Methods. A suite of 25 cosmological disks is used to examine the evolution of metallicity gradients; this consists of 19 galaxies selected from the RaDES (Ramses Disk Environment Study) sample, realised with the adaptive mesh refinement code ramses, including eight drawn from the “field” and six from “loose group” environments. Four disks are selected from the MUGS (McMaster Unbiased Galaxy Simulations) sample, generated with the smoothed particle hydrodynamics (SPH) code gasoline. Two chemical evolution models of inside-out disk growth were employed to contrast the temporal evolution of their radial gradients with those of the simulations.
Results. We first show that generically flatter gradients are observed at redshift zero when comparing older stars with those forming today, consistent with expectations of kinematically hot simulations, but counter to that observed in the Milky Way. The vertical abundance gradients at ~1−3 disk scalelengths are comparable to those observed in the thick disk of the Milky Way, but significantly shallower than those seen in the thin disk. Most importantly, we find that systematic differences exist between the predicted evolution of radial abundance gradients in the RaDES and chemical evolution models, compared with the MUGS sample; specifically, the MUGS simulations are systematically steeper at high-redshift, and present much more rapid evolution in their gradients.
Conclusions. We find that the majority of the models predict radial gradients today which are consistent with those observed in late-type disks, but they evolve to this self-similarity in different fashions, despite each adhering to classical “inside-out” growth. We find that radial dependence of the efficiency with which stars form as a function of time drives the differences seen in the gradients; systematic differences in the sub-grid physics between the various codes are responsible for setting these gradients. Recent, albeit limited, data at redshift z ~ 1.5 are consistent with the steeper gradients seen in our SPH sample, suggesting a modest revision of the classical chemical evolution models may be required.
Key words: galaxies: abundances / galaxies: evolution / galaxies: formation / Galaxy: disk
© ESO, 2012