Constraining sub-grid physics with high-redshift spatially-resolved metallicity distributions

Gibson, Bradley Kenneth orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-4446-3130, Pilkington, K., Brook, C. B., Stinson, G. S. and Bailin, J. (2013) Constraining sub-grid physics with high-redshift spatially-resolved metallicity distributions. Astronomy & Astrophysics, 554 . A47. ISSN 0004-6361

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Aims. We examine the role of energy feedback in shaping the distribution of metals within cosmological hydrodynamical simulations of L* disc galaxies. While negative abundance gradients today provide a boundary condition for galaxy evolution models, in support of inside-out disc growth, empirical evidence as to whether abundance gradients steepen or flatten with time remains highly contradictory.

Methods. We made use of a suite of L* discs, realised with and without "enhanced" feedback. All the simulations were produced using the smoothed particle hydrodynamics code Gasoline, and their in situ gas-phase metallicity gradients traced from redshift z similar to 2 to the present-day. Present-day age-metallicity relations and metallicity distribution functions were derived for each system.

Results. The "enhanced" feedback models, which have been shown to be in agreement with a broad range of empirical scaling relations, distribute energy and re-cycled ISM material over large scales and predict the existence of relatively "flat" and temporally invariant abundance gradients. Enhanced feedback schemes reduce significantly the scatter in the local stellar age-metallicity relation and, especially, the [O/Fe]-[Fe/H] relation. The local [O/Fe] distribution functions for our L* discs show clear bimodality, with peaks at [O/Fe] = -0.05 and +0.05 (for stars with [Fe/H] > -1), consistent with our earlier work on dwarf discs.

Conclusions. Our results with "enhanced" feedback are inconsistent with our earlier generation of simulations realised with "conservative" feedback. We conclude that spatially-resolved metallicity distributions, particularly at high-redshift, offer a unique and under-utilised constraint on the uncertain nature of stellar feedback processes.

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