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On the reliability of C IV λ 1549 as an abundance indicator for high-redshift star-forming galaxies

Crowther, Paul A. and Prinja, Raman K. and Pettini, Max and Steidel, Charles C. (2006) On the reliability of C IV λ 1549 as an abundance indicator for high-redshift star-forming galaxies. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 368 (2). pp. 895-902. ISSN 0035-8711. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2966.2006.10164.x.

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We reconsider the use of the equivalent width of C IV λ 1549, EW(C IV), as an indicator of the oxygen abundance in star-forming galaxies, as proposed by Heckman et al. for nearby starbursts. We refine the local calibration of EW(C IV) versus log (O/H) by using a restricted wavelength window which minimizes blending with interstellar absorption lines. When applied to the stellar component only of the complex C IV λ 1549 features in two high-redshift galaxies with good quality spectra, MS 1512-cB58 (z = 2.7268) and Q1307-BM1163 (z = 1.4105), the local calibration gives values of the oxygen abundance which are in good agreement with other metallicity determinations based on nebular emission and interstellar absorption lines. Our main conclusion is that for this method to give reliable results at high redshifts, it should only be used on data of sufficiently high spectral resolution (R ≳ 1000) for stellar and interstellar C IV components to be clearly separated. Oxygen abundances will be systematically overestimated if the local calibration is applied to spectra of high-redshift galaxies obtained with the low resolving powers (R ≃ 200 - 300) of many current wide-field surveys. It will also be necessary to understand better the causes of the scatter in the local relation, before we can be confident of inferences from it at high z.

Item Type:Article
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Pettini, Max0000-0002-5139-4359
Steidel, Charles C.0000-0002-4834-7260
Additional Information:© 2006 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2006 RAS. Accepted 2006 February 7. Received 2006 January 24. Article first published online: 23 Mar. 2006. Based, in part, on the observations with the NASA/ESA HST, obtained from the ESO/ST-ECF Science Archive Facility. PAC gratefully acknowledges financial support from the Royal Society. We thank Sam Rix for providing her synthetic UV spectra of star-forming galaxies.
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Subject Keywords:galaxies: abundances; galaxies: starburst; ultraviolet: galaxies
Issue or Number:2
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20110228-090445852
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Official Citation:On the reliability of C iv λ1549 as an abundance indicator for high-redshift star-forming galaxies (pages 895–902) Paul A. Crowther, Raman K. Prinja, Max Pettini and Charles C. Steidel Article first published online: 23 MAR 2006 | DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2966.2006.10164.x
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:22539
Deposited By: Ruth Sustaita
Deposited On:28 Feb 2011 21:45
Last Modified:09 Nov 2021 16:05

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