The stellar metallicity gradients in galaxy discs in a cosmological scenario
1 Departamento de Ciencias
FisicasUniversidad Andres Bello, Av.
Republica 220, Santiago, Chile
2 Millennium Institute of Astrophysics, Av Libertador Bernardo O’Higgins 1058 Santiago, Regiòn Metropolitana, Chile
3 Institute of Astronomy, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Av. Vicuña Mackena, 4860 Macul, La Florida, Regiòn Metropolitana, Chile
4 Instituto de Astronomía y Física del Espacio, CONICET-UBA, Casilla de Correos 67, Suc. 28, C1428ZAA, Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires, Argentina
5 Instituto de Astronomía, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, A.P. 70-264, 04510 México D.F., Mexico
6 School of Physics, Korea Institute for Advanced Study, 85 Hoegiro, Dongdaemun-gu, 02455 Seoul, Republic of Korea
7 Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía (CSIC), Glorieta de la Astronomía s/n, 18008 Granada, Spain
Accepted: 21 April 2016
Context. The stellar metallicity gradients of disc galaxies provide information on disc assembly, star formation processes, and chemical evolution. They also might store information on dynamical processes that could affect the distribution of chemical elements in the gas phase and the stellar components. Understanding their joint effects within a hierarchical clustering scenario is of paramount importance.
Aims. We studied the stellar metallicity gradients of simulated discs in a cosmological simulation. We explored the dependence of the stellar metallicity gradients on stellar age and on the size and mass of the stellar discs.
Methods. We used a catalogue of galaxies with disc components selected from a cosmological hydrodynamical simulation performed including a physically motivated supernova feedback and chemical evolution. Disc components were defined based on angular momentum and binding energy criteria. The metallicity profiles were estimated for stars with different ages. We confront our numerical findings with results from the Calar Alto Legacy Integral Field Area (CALIFA) Survey.
Results. The simulated stellar discs are found to have metallicity profiles with slopes in global agreement with observations. Low stellar mass galaxies tend to have a larger variety of metallicity slopes. When normalized by the half-mass radius, the stellar metallicity gradients do not show any dependence and the dispersion increases significantly, regardless of the galaxy mass. Galaxies with stellar masses o f around 1010M⊙ show steeper negative metallicity gradients. The stellar metallicity gradients correlate with the half-mass radius. However, the correlation signal is not present when they are normalized by the half-mass radius. Stellar discs with positive age gradients are detected to have negative and positive metallicity gradients, depending on the relative importance of recent star formation activity in the central regions.
Conclusions. Our results suggest that inside-out formation is the main process responsible for the metallicity and age profiles. The large dispersions in the metallicity gradients as a function of stellar mass could be ascribed to the effects of dynamical processes such as mergers, interactions and/or migration as well as those regulating the conversion of gas into stars. The fingerprints of the inside-out formation seem better preserved by the stellar metallicity gradients as a function of the half-mass radius.
Key words: galaxies: abundances / galaxies: formation / galaxies: fundamental parameters
© ESO, 2016