The local metallicity-surface brightness relationship in galactic disks

Stuart D. Ryder*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

53 Citations (Scopus)


We present the results of a first attempt to employ multiaperture masks to obtain spectrophotometry of H II regions in nearby galaxies. A total of 97 H II regions in six southern spiral galaxies were observed using a combination of multiaperture masks and conventional long-slit spectrophotometry. The oxygen abundances derived from the multiaperture mask observations using the empirical abundance diagnostic R23 are shown to be consistent with those from long-slit spectra and generally show better reproducibility and object definition. Although the number of objects that can be observed simultaneously with this particular system is still quite limited compared with either imaging spectrophotometry or fiber-fed spectrographs, the spectral resolution offered and high throughput in the blue help make multiaperture spectrophotometry a competitive technique for increasing the sampling of H II regions in both radial distance and luminosity. There is still no clear trend of abundance gradient with either the galaxy's luminosity or its Hubble type, although the extrapolated central abundance does appear to correlate with galaxy luminosity/mass. In order to avoid the difficulty in choosing an appropriate normalizing radius, we instead plot the oxygen abundance against the underlying I-band surface brightness at the radial distance of the H II region and confirm the existence of a local metallicity-surface brightness relationship within the disks of spiral galaxies. Although the simple closed-box model of galaxy evolution predicts almost the right form of this relationship, a more realistic multizone model employing exponentially decreasing gas infall provides a more satisfactory fit to the observational data, provided the expected enriched gas return from dying low-mass stars shedding their envelopes at late epochs is properly taken into account.This same model, with a star formation law based upon self-regulating star formation in a three-dimensional disk (Dopita & Ryder 1994), is equally capable of accounting for the observed relationship between recent massive star formation and stellar surface brightness (Ryder & Dopita 1994).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)610-631
Number of pages22
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 10 May 1995
Externally publishedYes



  • Galaxies: ISM
  • Galaxies: spiral
  • H II regions
  • ISM: abundances

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