The SAMI Galaxy Survey: reconciling strong emission line metallicity diagnostics using metallicity gradients

Henry Poetrodjojo*, Brent Groves, Lisa J. Kewley, Sarah M. Sweet, Sebastian F. Sanchez, Anne M. Medling, Ángel R. López-Sánchez, Sarah Brough, Luca Cortese, Jesse van de Sande, Sam Vaughan, Samuel N. Richards, Julia J. Bryant, Scott M. Croom, Joss Bland-Hawthorn, Michael Goodwin, Jon S. Lawrence, Matt S. Owers, Nicholas Scott

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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We measure the gas-phase metallicity gradients of 248 galaxies selected from Data Release 2 of the SAMI Galaxy Survey. We demonstrate that there are large systematic discrepancies between the metallicity gradients derived using common strong emission line metallicity diagnostics. We determine which pairs of diagnostics have Spearman's rank coefficients greater than 0.6 and provide linear conversions to allow the accurate comparison of metallicity gradients derived using different strong emission line diagnostics. For galaxies within the mass range 8.5 <log (M/M) <11.0, we find discrepancies of up to 0.11 dex/Re between seven popular diagnostics in the metallicity gradient-mass relation. We find a suggestion of a break in the metallicity gradient-mass relation, where the slope shifts from negative to positive, occurs between 9.5 <log (M/M) <10.5 for the seven chosen diagnostics. Applying our conversions to the metallicity gradient-mass relation, we reduce the maximum dispersion from 0.11 dex/Re to 0.02 dex/Re. These conversions provide the most accurate method of converting metallicity gradients when key emission lines are unavailable. We find that diagnostics that share common sets of emission line ratios agree best, and that diagnostics calibrated through the electron temperature provide more consistent results compared to those calibrated through photoionization models.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3357-3373
Number of pages17
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

This article has been accepted for publication in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 502, Issue 3, April 2021, Pages 3357–3373, Copyright 2021 The Author(s). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.


  • galaxies: abundances
  • galaxies: fundamental parameters
  • galaxies: ISM


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