CHEMICAL ABUNDANCES AND PHOTOMETRIC PARAMETERS IN THE BULGES OF SPIRAL GALAXIES
AuthorBoroson, Todd Allan
AdvisorWeymann, Ray J.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe relation between central or mean metallicity and luminosity in elliptical galaxies is a well observed phenomenon. Theoretical explanations proposed for this relation include scenarios in which peak metallicities are determined either by the epoch at which the remaining gas is expelled from the galaxy by supernova-driven winds, or by the efficiency of star formation following a series of mergers by small stellar/gaseous subsystems. These explanations suggest that an investigation of the metallicity-luminosity relation for spiral galaxies might have implications for galaxy formation models and for the origin of SO galaxies. The existing evidence concerning SO's points to a relation between mean metallicity and total luminosity. The problem of measuring metal abundances in the nuclei of spiral galaxies is that the line strength variations due to metallicity changes must be distinguished from those due to a filling in of the lines by the continuum from a young population. This was accomplished by measuring absorption line indices for Mg b and for a CN band at λ3880. Nuclear spectra of twenty ellipticals, obtained with a reticon detector, show these two indices to be well correlated for pure old populations; models including the effects of young stars show a very different trajectory for age effects. A procedure is thus defined for determining the metallicity of the population and the fraction of light coming from the young component, and this procedure is applied to observations of 25 spiral galaxies. A comparison of the results of this analysis with detailed population syntheses for six galaxies confirms the correctness of the procedure. In order to obtain bulge luminosities and bulge-to-disk ratios, photographic plates of twenty-two of the spirals were obtained. This material was digitized and reduced to a series of radial luminosity profiles for each galaxy. A procedure was established for decomposing the profiles into disk and bulge contributions. In addition to the desired gross parameters of the bulge and disk, the inclinations and true bulge flattenings for some of the galaxies are accurately determined. A discussion of the results of this analysis deals with the nature of departures from the exponential fitting function for some disks, a decomposition of the Hubble sequence into quantitative parameters, and the implication of the distribution of true bulge flattenings. The metallicities and luminosities are then combined, and two tests indicate that in spiral galaxies, central metallicity and bulge luminosity follow the same relation seen in ellipticals. The implications of this result are twofold. First, galaxy formation models in which the disk material can affect the processes which determine the central metallicity in the bulge are ruled out. Specifically, it is likely that the disks of spiral galaxies are not undergoing vigorous star formation at the time the bulge ceases forming stars. A picture in which the disk material has not yet accreted on to the galaxy at this time is also quite consistent. A somewhat more straightforward implication comes from a comparison of the results of this study with similar studies of SO galaxies. It is concluded that, aside from the uncertain effects of radial gradients, the evidence is inconsistent with the theory that most SO's were at one time spiral galaxies.
Degree ProgramGraduate College