Chemical abundances of damped Ly systems:
A new method for estimating dust depletion effects
Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica, Osservatorio Astronomico di Trieste, Via G.B. Tiepolo 11, 34131 Trieste, Italy
Corresponding author: firstname.lastname@example.org
Accepted: 31 May 2002
A new method is presented for recovering the abundances of Damped Ly α systems (DLAs) taking into account the effects of dust depletion. For the first time, possible variations of the chemical composition of the dust are taken into account in estimating the depletions. No prior assumptions on the extinction properties of the dust are required. The method requires a set of abundances measured in the gas and a set of parameters describing the chemical properties of the dust. A large subset of these parameters is determined from interstellar observations; the others are free parameters for which an educated guess can be made. The method is able to recover the abundances of the SMC starting from SMC interstellar measurements apparently discrepant from the stellar ones. Application of the method to 22 DLAs with available [Fe/H] and [Si/Fe] measurements gives the following results: (1) the mean metallicity of the corrected data is dex, about 0.5 dex higher than that of the original data; (2) the slope of the [Fe/H] versus redshift relation is steeper for the corrected data ( dex) than for the original ones ( dex); (3) the corrected [Si/Fe] ratios are less enhanced, on average, than those found in Galactic stars of similar, low metallicity; (4) a decrease of the [Si/Fe] versus [Fe/H] ratios, expected by “time delay” models of chemical evolution, is found for the corrected data; (5) the [Si/Fe] ratios tend to increase with redshift once corrected; (6) consistency between [Si/Fe] and [S/Zn] measurements, two independent estimators of the α/Fe ratio, is found only for the corrected abundances.
Key words: galaxies: abundances, ISM, high-redshift / quasars: absorption lines
© ESO, 2002