The Metallicity and Elemental Abundance Gradients of Simulated Galaxies, and their Environmental Dependence

Philip Taylor, Chiaki Kobayashi

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24 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

The internal distribution of heavy elements, in particular the radial metallicity gradient, offers insight into the merging history of galaxies. Using our cosmological, chemodynamical simulations that include both detailed chemical enrichment and feedback from active galactic nuclei (AGN), we find that stellar metallicity gradients in the most massive galaxies ($\sim3\times10^{10}$M$_\odot$) are made flatter by mergers and are unable to regenerate due to the quenching of star formation by AGN feedback. The fitting range is chosen on a galaxy-by-galaxy basis in order to mask satellite galaxies. The evolutionary paths of the gradients can be summarised as follows; i) creation of initial steep gradients by gas-rich assembly, ii) passive evolution by star formation and/or stellar accretion at outskirts, iii) sudden flattening by mergers. There is a significant scatter in gradients at a given mass, which originates from the last path, and therefore from galaxy type. Some variation remains at given galaxy mass and type because of the complexity of merging events, and hence we find only a weak environmental dependence. Our early-type galaxies (ETGs), defined from the star formation main sequence rather than their morphology, are in excellent agreement with the observed stellar metallicity gradients of ETGs in the SAURON and ATLAS3D surveys. We find small positive [O/Fe] gradients of stars in our simulated galaxies, although they are smaller with AGN feedback. Gas-phase metallicity and [O/Fe] gradients also show variation, the origin of which is not as clear as for stellar populations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3856–3870
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Volume471
Issue number4
Early online date22 Jul 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 11 Nov 2017

Keywords

  • astro-ph.GA

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