A Comparison of UV and Optical Metallicities in Star-forming Galaxies

Nell Byler, Lisa J. Kewley, Jane R. Rigby, Ayan Acharyya, Danielle A. Berg, Matthew Bayliss, Keren Sharon

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    16 Citations (Scopus)


    Our ability to study the properties of the interstellar medium in the earliest galaxies will rely on emission-line diagnostics at rest-frame ultraviolet (UV) wavelengths. In this work, we identify metallicity-sensitive diagnostics using UV emission lines. We compare UV-derived metallicities with standard, well-established optical metallicities using a sample of galaxies with rest-frame UV and optical spectroscopy. We find that the He2-O3C3 diagnostic (He ii λ1640 &mathring;A/C iii] λ1906,1909 A versus [O iii] λ1666 A/C iii] λ1906,9 &mathring; A) is a reliable metallicity tracer, particularly at low metallicity (), where stellar contributions are minimal. We find that the Si3-O3C3 diagnostic ([Si iii] λ1883 &mathring; A/C iii] λ1906 &mathring; A versus [O iii] λ1666 &mathring; A/C iii] λ1906,9 &mathring;A) is a reliable metallicity tracer, though with large scatter (0.2-0.3 dex), which we suggest is driven by variations in gas-phase abundances. We find that the C4-O3C3 diagnostic (C iv λ 1548,50 &mathring; A/[O iii] λ 1666 &mathring; A versus [O iii] λ 1666 &mathring; A/C iii] λ 1906,9 &mathring; A) correlates poorly with optically derived metallicities. We discuss possible explanations for these discrepant metallicity determinations, including the hardness of the ionizing spectrum, contribution from stellar wind emission, and non-solar-scaled gas-phase abundances. Finally, we provide two new UV oxygen abundance diagnostics, calculated from polynomial fits to the model grid surface in the He2-O3C3 and Si3-O3C3 diagrams.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number1
    JournalAstrophysical Journal
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 10 Apr 2020


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