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2019ApJ...877....6B - Astrophys. J., 877, 6-6 (2019/May-3)

A characteristic mass scale in the mass-metallicity relation of galaxies.


Abstract (from CDS):

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∝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 109.5–1010.5M 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.

Abstract Copyright: © 2019. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.

Journal keyword(s): galaxies: abundances - galaxies: evolution - galaxies: fundamental parameters - galaxies: ISM - ISM: abundances - ISM: structure

Simbad objects: 43

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