The metallicity structure of the Milky Way disk stems from the chemodynamical evolutionary history of the Galaxy. We use the National Radio Astronomy Observatory Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array to observe ∼8─10 GHz hydrogen radio recombination line and radio-continuum emission toward 82 Galactic H II regions. We use these data to derive the electron temperatures and metallicities for these nebulae. Since collisionally excited lines from metals (e.g., oxygen, nitrogen) are the dominant cooling mechanism in H II regions, the nebular metallicity can be inferred from the electron temperature. Including previous single-dish studies, there are now 167 nebulae with radio-determined electron temperature and either parallax or kinematic distance determinations. The interferometric electron temperatures are systematically 10% larger than those found in previous single-dish studies, likely due to incorrect data analysis strategies, optical depth effects, and/or the observation of different gas by the interferometer. By combining the interferometer and single-dish samples, we find an oxygen abundance gradient across the Milky Way disk with a slope of −0.052 ± 0.004 dex kpc−1. We also find significant azimuthal structure in the metallicity distribution. The slope of the oxygen gradient varies by a factor of ∼2 when Galactocentric azimuths near ∼30° are compared with those near ∼100°. This azimuthal structure is consistent with simulations of Galactic chemodynamical evolution influenced by spiral arms.
The Astrophysical Journal
- Pub Date:
- December 2019
- Milky Way Galaxy;
- Interstellar medium;
- Astrophysics - Astrophysics of Galaxies
- 51 pages, 16 figures, 7 tables, 1 appendix