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  A Characteristic Mass Scale in the Mass─Metallicity Relation of Galaxies

Blanc, G. A., Lu, Y., Benson, A., Katsianis, A., & Barraza, M. (2019). A Characteristic Mass Scale in the Mass─Metallicity Relation of Galaxies. The Astrophysical Journal, 877.

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Item Permalink: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0005-D1CE-7 Version Permalink: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0005-D1CF-6
Genre: Journal Article

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 Creators:
Blanc, Guillermo A.1, Author
Lu, Yu1, Author
Benson, Andrew1, Author
Katsianis, Antonios1, Author
Barraza, Marcelo1, Author
Affiliations:
1Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Max Planck Society and Cooperation Partners, ou_2421692              

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Free keywords: galaxies: abundances galaxies: evolution galaxies: fundamental parameters galaxies: ISM ISM: abundances ISM: structure Astrophysics - Astrophysics of Galaxies
 Abstract: We study the shape of the gas-phase mass─metallicity relation (MZR) of a combined sample of present-day dwarf and high-mass star-forming galaxies using IZI, a Bayesian formalism for measuring chemical abundances presented in a previous publication. We observe a characteristic stellar mass scale at M * ≃ 109.5 M , above which the inter-stellar medium undergoes a sharp increase in its level of chemical enrichment. In the 106─109.5 M range the MZR follows a shallow power law (Z\propto {M}* α ) with slope α = 0.14 ± 0.08. Approaching M * ≃ 109.5 M the MZR steepens significantly, showing a slope of α = 0.37 ± 0.08 in the {10}9.5{--}{10}10.5 {M}ȯ range, and a flattening toward a constant metallicity at higher stellar masses. This behavior is qualitatively different from results in the literature that show a single power-law MZR toward the low-mass end. We thoroughly explore systematic uncertainties in our measurement, and show that the shape of the MZR is not induced by sample selection, aperture effects, a changing N/O abundance, the adopted methodology to construct the MZR, secondary dependences on star formation activity, or diffuse ionized gas contamination, but rather on differences in the method used to measure abundances. High-resolution hydrodynamical simulations of galaxies can qualitatively reproduce our result, and suggest a transition in the ability of galaxies to retain their metals for stellar masses above this threshold. The MZR characteristic mass scale also coincides with a transition in the scale height and clumpiness of cold gas disks, and a typical gas fraction below which the efficiency of star formation feedback for driving outflows is expected to decrease sharply.

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 Dates: 2019
 Publication Status: Published in print
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Title: The Astrophysical Journal
Source Genre: Journal
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Pages: - Volume / Issue: 877 Sequence Number: - Start / End Page: - Identifier: -