The VIRUS-P Exploration of Nearby Galaxies (VENGA): Spatially resolved gas-phase metallicity distributions in barred and unbarred spirals

Kyle F. Kaplan, Shardha Jogee, Lisa Kewley, Guillermo A. Blanc, Tim Weinzirl, Mimi Song, Niv Drory, Rongxin Luo, Remco C.E. van den Bosch

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    Abstract

    We present a study of the excitation conditions and metallicity of ionized gas (Zgas) in eight nearby barred and unbarred spiral galaxies from the VIRUS-P Exploration of Nearby Galaxies (VENGA) survey, which provides high spatial sampling and resolution (median ~387 pc), large coverage from the bulge to outer disc, broad wavelength range (3600-6800 Å), and medium spectral resolution (~120 km s-1 at 5000 Å). Our results are: (1) We present high resolution gas excitation maps to differentiate between regions with excitation typical of Seyfert, LINER, or recent star formation. We find LINER-type excitation at large distances (3-10 kpc) from the centre, and associate this excitation with diffuse ionized gas (DIG). (2) After excluding spaxels dominated by Seyfert, LINER, or DIG, we produce maps with the best spatial resolution and sampling to date of the ionization parameter q, star formation rate, and Zgas using common strong line diagnostics. We find that isolated barred and unbarred spirals exhibit similarly shallow Zgas profiles from the inner kpc out to large radii (7-10 kpc or 0.5-1.0 R25). This implies that if profiles had steeper gradients at earlier epochs, then the presentday bar is not the primary driver flattening gradients over time. This result contradicts earlier claims, but agrees with recent IFU studies. (3) The Zgas gradients in our z ~ 0 massive spirals are markedly shallower, by ~0.2 dex kpc-1, than published gradients for lensed lower mass galaxies at z ~ 1.5-2.0. Cosmologically motivated hydrodynamical simulations best match this inferred evolution, but the match is sensitive to adopted stellar feedback prescriptions.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1642-1682
    Number of pages41
    JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
    Volume462
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 21 Oct 2016

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