First Co-spatial Comparison of Stellar, Neutral-, and Ionized-gas Metallicities in a metal-rich galaxy: M83

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Svea Hernandez, Alessandra Aloisi, Bethan L. James, Nimisha Kumari, Danielle Berg, Angela Adamo, William P. Blair, Claude-André Faucher-Giguère, Andrew J. Fox, Alexander B. Gurvich, Zachary Hafen, Timothy M. Heckman, Vianney Lebouteiller, Knox S. Long, Evan D. Skillman, Jason Tumlinson, Bradley C. Whitmore

We carry out a comparative analysis of the metallicities from the stellar, neutral-gas, and ionized-gas components in the metal-rich spiral galaxy M83. We analyze spectroscopic observations taken with the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) and the Very Large Telescope (VLT). We detect a clear depletion of the HI gas, as observed from the HI column densities in the nuclear region of this spiral galaxy. We find column densities of log[N(HI) cm−2] < 20.0 at galactocentric distances of < 0.18 kpc, in contrast to column densities of log[N(HI) cm−2] ∼ 21.0 in the galactic disk, a trend observed in other nearby spiral galaxies. We measure a metallicity gradient of −0.03 ± 0.01 dex kpc−1 for the ionized gas, comparable to the metallicity gradient of a local benchmark of 49 nearby star-forming galaxies of −0.026 ± 0.002 dex kpc−1. Our co-spatial metallicity comparison of the multi-phase gas and stellar populations shows excellent agreement outside of the nucleus of the galaxy hinting at a scenario where the mixing of newly synthesized metals from the most massive stars in the star clusters takes longer than their lifetimes (∼10 Myr). Finally, our work shows that caution must be taken when studying the metallicity gradient of the neutral-gas component in star-forming galaxies, since this can be strongly biased, as these environments can be dominated by molecular gas. In these regions the typical metallicity tracers can provide inaccurate abundances as they may trace both the neutral- and molecular-gas components.

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