An Examination of Strong-line Metallicity Diagnostics with Direct Gas-Phase Metallicities at Higher Redshifts
The [OIII]λ4363 nebular emission line, which provides the most reliable determination of the gas metallicity by measuring the electron temperature of the gas, is intrinsically weak. As such, most metallicity studies at both low and high redshifts have utilized "strong-line" metallicity calibrations, such as [NII]λ6583/Hα or R23 = ([OII]+[OIII])/Hβ. However, there are growing concerns that these diagnostics may not be used for evolutionary studies due to differences in the physical conditions (e.g., density, ionization, abundance ratios) of the interstellar gas in galaxies. A clear demonstration for this concern is the offset on the Baldwin-Phillips-Terlevich diagnostic diagram ([OIII]λ5007/Hβ vs. [NII]λ6583/Hα) for high-z star-forming galaxies from local star-forming galaxies.To examine this issue, we investigate the accuracy that commonly-used strong-line diagnostics can explain the direct oxygen abundances. Here, we use a sample of ~100 low-mass galaxies at z=0.07 to 1.0 with detections of the [OIII]λ4363 emission line from Keck and MMT optical spectroscopy. These galaxies are pre-selected for their strong nebular emission lines from the Subaru Deep Field and the DEEP2 Survey. Utilizing the optical emission lines, we argue that "R23" is not a reliable diagnostic and that discrepancies from [OIII]λ4363-based metallicity cannot be explained simply by higher gas densities or higher ionization parameter. We do find that the [NII]-based metallicity diagnostics of Pettini & Pagel (2004) are in agreement with [OIII]λ4363-based metallicity at z~0.5. There is, however, a sub-population (25%) where [NII]-based estimates are overestimating the oxygen metallicities. We argue that enhanced nitrogen abundances, relative to oxygen, is responsible for this significant (~0.5 dex) offset in metallicity. We present preliminary results for a revised metallicity calibration that considers the N/O abundance ratio.
American Astronomical Society Meeting Abstracts #227
- Pub Date:
- January 2016