Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc., 398, 119-132 (2009/September-1)
Abundance ratios in red-sequence galaxies over a wide mass range: the `X-planes' for magnesium, calcium, carbon and nitrogen.
SMITH R.J., LUCEY J.R., HUDSON M.J. and BRIDGES T.J.
Abstract (from CDS):
We analyse the abundance ratios of the light elements Mg, Ca, C and N, relative to Fe, for 147 red-sequence galaxies in the Coma cluster and the Shapley Supercluster. The sample covers a 6 mag range in luminosity, from giant ellipticals to dwarfs at M* + 4. We exploit the wide mass range to investigate systematic trends in the abundance ratios Mg/Fe, Ca/Fe, C/Fe and N/Fe. We find that each of these ratios can be well modelled using two-parameter relations of the form [X/Fe] = a0+ a1 logσ + a2[Fe/H], where σ is the velocity dispersion. Analysing these `X-planes' reveals new structure in the abundance patterns, beyond the traditional one-parameter correlations (Mg/Fe-σ, etc.). The X-planes for the α elements, Mg and Ca, indicate a positive correlation with velocity dispersion, and simultaneously an anticorrelation with Fe/H (i.e. a1> 0 and a2< 0). Taking both effects into account dramatically reduces the scatter, compared to the traditional X/Fe-σ relations. For C and N, a similar correlation with velocity dispersion is recovered, but there is no additional dependence on Fe/H (i.e. a1 > 0 and a2~ 0). The explicit dependence of X/Fe on two parameters is evidence that at least two physical processes are at work in setting the abundance patterns. The Fe/H dependence of Mg/Fe and Ca/Fe, at fixed σ, may result from different durations of star formation, from galaxy to galaxy, leading to a range in the degree of Type Ia supernova contribution to the chemical enrichment. The absence of corresponding Fe/H dependence for C and N is consistent with these elements being generated in intermediate- and low-mass stars, on time-scales similar to the Fe production. The σ dependence, at fixed Fe/H, is similar for elements Mg, C and N, despite their likely origin in stars of very different masses and lifetimes. Ca/Fe is positively correlated with σ, at fixed Fe/H, but its dependence is significantly less steep than that of Mg, C and N. We discuss possible origins for this pattern of trends and find no simple prescription that reproduces the observations. In particular, if C and N are produced on time-scales comparable to that of Fe, then the X/Fe-σ trends cannot be explained solely by a systematic variation of star formation time-scale with σ.
© 2009 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2009 RAS
galaxies: abundances - galaxies: dwarf - galaxies: elliptical and lenticular, cD - galaxies: evolution
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