Investigating the Origin of Observed Central Dips in Radial Metallicity Profiles

Bethan Easeman, Patricia Schady, Stijn Wuyts, Robert M. Yates

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Abstract

Radial metallicity trends provide a key indicator of physical processes such as star formation and radial gas migration within a galaxy. Large IFU surveys allow for detailed studies of these radial variations, with recent observations detecting central dips in the metallicity, which may trace the impact of various evolutionary processes. However, the origin of these dips has not been conclusively determined, with suggestions that they may be diagnostic dependent. In this paper, we use the SDSS-IV MaNGA survey to investigate whether the observed dips represent genuine decreases in the central metallicity, or if they could be an artefact of the diagnostic used. Using a sub-sample of 758 local star-forming galaxies at low inclinations, we investigate in detail the impact of using different strong line diagnostics on the shapes of the returned profiles, and the prevalence of dips. We find no clear evidence of the dips being caused by changing values of the ionisation parameter within galaxies. To investigate physical causes, we explore both global and spatially-resolved parameters, finding that galaxies exhibiting central dips in the O3N2 metallicity profile have on average lower H$\alpha$EW values out to $R/R_\rm{e} \sim 1.5$, and higher values of D$_N$(4000) in the central regions. We additionally find a higher prevalence of dips in galaxies with high stellar mass, and lower values of global specific star formation rate, suggesting a possible link to central quenching. Nevertheless, these results are dependent on the diagnostic used, suggesting caution should be taken when interpreting observed features in galaxy metallicity gradients.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Volume511
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022

Keywords

  • astro-ph.GA

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