Volume 421, Number 2, July II 2004
|Page(s)||479 - 490|
|Published online||22 June 2004|
The early build-up of dust in galaxies: A study of damped Ly α systems
Osservatorio Astronomico di Trieste - Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica, via G.B. Tiepolo 11, 34131 Trieste, Italy
Corresponding author: firstname.lastname@example.org
Accepted: 10 March 2004
We present a study of the early build-up of dust in high redshift galaxies. The study is based on the analysis of 38 Damped Lyα systems (DLAs) for which we derive the fraction of iron atoms in dust form, fFe. The sample is representative of metal-poor galaxies in the redshift range selected on the basis of their absorption column density ( atoms cm-2). We find that the dust fraction increases with metallicity, from at dex, up to at solar metallicity; the increase is fast below dex and mild at higher metallicities. We also find some evidence for an increase of fFe with cosmic time; a large fraction of the systems younger than ≈3 Gyr has . These results indicate that the dust-to-metal ratio increases in the course of chemical evolution, at variance with the hypothesis of an approximately constant dust-to-metal ratio, commonly adopted in models of galactic evolution. This hypothesis is consistent with local and high-redshift data only when the metallicity is relatively high ( dex). The results of this work suggest that the main mechanisms of dust formation may be rather sensitive to the level of metallicity attained by a galaxy in the course of its chemical evolution. A metallicity-dependent dust production by SNe II seems to be the most promising mechanism to explain the rise of fFe at dex.
Key words: ISM: dust, extinction / galaxies: ISM / galaxies: evolution / galaxies: high-redshift / galaxies: quasars: absorption lines
© ESO, 2004
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