The Origin and Evolution of Metallicity Gradients : Probing the Mode of Mass Assembly at z = 2 Article - Mars 2013

Tucker Jones, Richard S. Ellis, Johan Richard, Eric Jullo

Tucker Jones, Richard S. Ellis, Johan Richard, Eric Jullo, « The Origin and Evolution of Metallicity Gradients : Probing the Mode of Mass Assembly at z = 2  », The Astrophysical Journal, mars 2013, p. 48. ISSN 0004-637X

Abstract

We present and discuss measurements of the gas-phase metallicity gradient in four gravitationally lensed galaxies at z = 2.0-2.4 based on adaptive optics-assisted imaging spectroscopy with the Keck II telescope. Three galaxies with well-ordered rotation reveal metallicity gradients with lower gas-phase metallicities at larger galactocentric radii. Two of these display gradients much steeper than found locally, while a third has one similar to that seen in local disk galaxies. The fourth galaxy exhibits complex kinematics indicative of an ongoing merger and reveals an "inverted" gradient with lower metallicity in the central regions. By comparing our sample to similar data in the literature for lower redshift galaxies, we determine that, on average, metallicity gradients must flatten by a factor of 2.6 ± 0.9 between z = 2.2 and the present epoch. This factor is in rough agreement with the size growth of massive galaxies, suggesting that inside-out growth can account for the evolution of metallicity gradients. Since the addition of our new data provides the first indication of a coherent picture of this evolution, we develop a simple model of chemical evolution to explain the collective data. We find that metallicity gradients and their evolution can be explained by the inward radial migration of gas together with a radial variation in the mass loading factor governing the ratio of outflowing gas to the local star formation rate. Average mass loading factors of < 2 are inferred from our model in good agreement with direct measurements of outflowing gas in z = 2 galaxies.

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