We present echelle spectrophotometry of the blue compact dwarf galaxy NGC 5253 obtained with the VLT UVES. We have measured the intensities of a large number of permitted and forbidden emission lines in four zones of the central part of the galaxy. We detect faint C II and O II recombination lines, the first time that these are unambiguously detected in a dwarf starburst galaxy. The physical conditions of the ionized gas have been derived using a large number of different line intensity ratios. Chemical abundances of He, N, O, Ne, S, Cl, Ar, and Fe have been determined following standard methods. C++ and O++ abundances have been derived from pure recombination lines and are larger than those obtained from collisionally excited lines (from 0.30 to 0.40 dex for C++ and from 0.19 to 0.28 dex for O++). This result is consistent with a temperature fluctuation parameter (t2) between 0.050 and 0.072. We confirm previous results that indicate the presence of a localized N enrichment in certain zones of NGC 5253 and detect a possible slight He overabundance in the same zones. The enrichment pattern agrees with that expected for the pollution by the ejecta of Wolf-Rayet (W-R) stars. The amount of enriched material needed to produce the observed overabundance is consistent with the mass lost by the number of W-R stars estimated in the starbursts. We discuss the possible origin of the difference between abundances derived from recombination and collisionally excited lines (the so-called abundance discrepancy problem) in H II regions, finding that a recent hypothesis based on the delayed enrichment by SN ejecta inclusions seems not to explain the observed features.
- Galaxies: abundances
- Galaxies: clusters: individual (NGC 5253)
- Galaxies: kinematics and dynamics
- Galaxies: starburst