Arm and interarm abundance gradients in CALIFA spiral galaxies

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Spiral arms are the most singular features in disc galaxies. These structures can exhibit different patterns, namely grand design and flocculent arms, with easily distinguishable characteristics. However, their origin and the mechanisms shaping them are unclear. The overall role of spirals in the chemical evolution of disc galaxies is another unsolved question. In particular, it has not been fully explored if the H II regions of spiral arms present different properties from those located in the interarm regions. Here we analyse the radial oxygen abundance gradient of the arm and interarm star forming regions of 63 face-on spiral galaxies using CALIFA Integral Field Spectroscopy data. We focus the analysis on three characteristic parameters of the profile: slope, zero-point, and scatter. The sample is morphologically separated into flocculent versus grand design spirals and barred versus unbarred galaxies. We find subtle but statistically significant differences between the arm and interarm distributions for flocculent galaxies, suggesting that the mechanisms generating the spiral structure in these galaxies may be different to those producing grand design systems, for which no significant differences are found. We also find small differences in barred galaxies, not observed in unbarred systems, hinting that bars may affect the chemical distribution of these galaxies but not strongly enough as to be reflected in the overall abundance distribution. In light of these results, we propose bars and flocculent structure as two distinct mechanisms inducing differences in the abundance distribution between arm and interarm star forming regions.
© ESO, 2017. Artículo firmado por 26 autores. This study makes use of the data provided by the Calar Alto Legacy Integral Field Area (CALIFA) survey ( based on observations collected at the Centro Astronómico Hispano Alemán (CAHA) at Calar Alto, operated jointly by the Max-Planck Institut fur Astronomie and the Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía (CSIC). CALIFA is the first legacy survey being performed at Calar Alto. The CALIFA collaboration would like to thank the IAA-CSIC and MPIA-MPG as major partners of the observatory, and CAHA itself, for the unique access to telescope time and support in manpower and infrastructures. The CALIFA collaboration also thanks the CAHA staff for the dedication to this project. We would like to thank the anonymous referee for comments which helped to improve the content of this paper and the confidence of our results. We acknowledge financial support from the Spanish Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad (MINECO) via grants AYA2012-31935 and AYA2014-53506-P, and from the "Junta de Andalucía" local government through the FQM-108 project. We also acknowledge support from the ConaCyt funding program 180125 and DGAPA IA100815. V.P.D. is supported by STFC Consolidated grant #ST/M000877/1. V.P.D. acknowledges being a part of the network supported by the COST Action TD1403 "Big Data Era in Sky and Earth Observation". L.G. was supported in part by the US National Science Foundation under Grant AST-1311862. R.A.M. acknowledges support from the Swiss National Science Foundation. J.M.A. acknowledges support from the European Research Council Starting Grant (SEDmorph; P.I. V. Wild) and MINECO through the grant AYA2013-43188-P. I.M. acknowledges support from the Junta de Andalucía through project TIC114, and the MINECO through projects AYA2013-42227-P and AYA2016-76682C3-1-P. Y.A. is financially supported by the Ramón y Cajal programme (contract RyC-2011-09461) and project AYA2016-79724-C4-1-P from the Spanish MINECO, as well as the exchange programme SELGIFS FP7-PEOPLE-2013-IRSES-612701 funded by the EU. R.M.G.D. acknowledges support from the Spanish grant AYA2010-15081, and from the "Junta de Andalucía" FQ1580 project. This research makes use of python (; Matplotlib (Hunter 2007), a suite of open-source python modules that provide a framework for creating scientific plots; and Astropy, a community-developed core Python package for Astronomy (Astropy Collaboration et al. 2013).
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