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Centro de Astrofísica da Universidade do Porto

Empirical strong-line oxygen abundance calibrations from galaxies with electron-temperature measurements

S. Y. Yin, Y. C. Liang, F. Hammer, J. Brinchmann, X. B. Zhang, L. C. Deng, H. Flores

Aims. Our aims are to estimate the validity of empirical methods, such as R23, R23 − P, log([N II]/Hα) (N2), log[([O III]/Hβ)/ ([N II]/Hα)] (O3N2), and log([S II]/Hα) (S2), and to re-derive (or add) the calibrations of R23, N2, O3N2, and S2 indices for oxygen abundances on the basis of a large sample of galaxies with Te-based abundances.
Methods. We determined the gas-phase oxygen abundance for a sample of 695 galaxies and H ii regions with reliable detections of [O III]4363, using the reliable and direct temperature-sensitive (Te) method of measuring metallicity. We selected 531 star-forming galaxies from the SDSS-DR4 database with strong emission lines, including [O III]4363 detected at a signal-to-noise ratio higher than 5σ, as well as 164 galaxies and H II regions from the literature with Te measurements. The O/H abundances were derived from a two-zone model for the temperature structure, assuming a relationship between high ionization and low ionization species.
Results. We compare our (O/H)Te measurements of the SDSS sample with the abundances obtained by the MPA/JHU group who used multiple strong emission lines and Bayesian techniques (Tremonti et al. 2004). For roughly half of the sample the Bayesian abundances are overestimated ∼0.34 dex, possibly due to the treatment of nitrogen enrichment in the models they used. The R23 and R23 − P methods systematically overestimate the O/H abundance by a factor of ∼0.20 dex and ∼0.06 dex, respectively. The N2 index, rather than the O3N2 index, provides more consistent O/H abundances with the Te-method, but with some scatter. The relations of N2, O3N2, and S2 with log(O/H) are consistent with the photoionization model calculations of Kewley & Doptita (2002), but R23 does not match well. We derive analytical calibrations for O/H from R23, N2, O3N2, and S2 indices on the basis of this large sample, including the excitation parameter P as an additional parameter in the N2 calibration. These empirical calibrations are free of the systematic problems inherent in abundance calibrations based on photoionization models.
Conclusions. We conclude that the N2, O3N2, and S2 indices are useful indicators for calibrating metallicities of galaxies with 12 + log(O/H) < 8.5 and that the R23 index works well for the metal-poor galaxies with 12+log(O/H) < 7.9. For the intermediate metallicity range (7.9 < 12 + log(O/H) < 8.4), the R23 and R23 − P methods are unreliable for characterizing the O/H abundances.

galaxies: abundances – galaxies: evolution – galaxies: ISM – galaxies: spiral – galaxies: starburst – galaxies: stellar content

Astronomy and Astrophysics
Volume 462, Page 535
March 2007

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