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Title: 3D gas-phase elemental abundances across the formation histories of Milky Way-mass galaxies in the FIRE simulations: initial conditions for chemical tagging
ABSTRACT We use FIRE-2 simulations to examine 3D variations of gas-phase elemental abundances of [O/H], [Fe/H], and [N/H] in 11 MW and M31-mass galaxies across their formation histories at z ≤ 1.5 ($t_{\rm lookback} \le 9.4 \, \rm {Gyr}$), motivated by characterizing the initial conditions of stars for chemical tagging. Gas within $1 \, \rm {kpc}$ of the disc mid-plane is vertically homogeneous to $\lesssim 0.008 \, \rm {dex}$ at all z ≤ 1.5. We find negative radial gradients (metallicity decreases with galactocentric radius) at all times, which steepen over time from $\approx \! -0.01 \, \rm {dex}\, \rm {kpc}^{-1}$ at z = 1 ($t_{\rm lookback} = 7.8 \, \rm {Gyr}$) to $\approx \! -0.03 \, \rm {dex}\, \rm {kpc}^{-1}$ at z = 0, and which broadly agree with observations of the MW, M31, and nearby MW/M31-mass galaxies. Azimuthal variations at fixed radius are typically $0.14 \, \rm {dex}$ at z = 1, reducing to $0.05 \, \rm {dex}$ at z = 0. Thus, over time radial gradients become steeper while azimuthal variations become weaker (more homogeneous). As a result, azimuthal variations were larger than radial variations at z ≳ 0.8 ($t_{\rm lookback} \gtrsim 6.9 \, \rm {Gyr}$). Furthermore, elemental abundances more » are measurably homogeneous (to ≲0.05 dex) across a radial range of $\Delta R \approx 3.5 \, \rm {kpc}$ at z ≳ 1 and $\Delta R \approx 1.7 \, \rm {kpc}$ at z = 0. We also measure full distributions of elemental abundances, finding typically negatively skewed normal distributions at z ≳ 1 that evolve to typically Gaussian distributions by z = 0. Our results on gas abundances inform the initial conditions for stars, including the spatial and temporal scales for applying chemical tagging to understand stellar birth in the MW. « less
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Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
4586 to 4607
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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