The Galactic metallicity gradient

W.R.J. Rolleston, Stephen Smartt, Philip Dufton, Robert Ryans

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172 Citations (Scopus)


We have previously published intermediate to hi,oh resolution spectroscopic observations of approximately 80 early B-type main-sequence stars situated in 19 Galactic open clusters/associations with Galactocentric distances distributed over 6 less than or equal to R-g less than or equal to 18 kpc. This current study collates and re-analyses these equivalent- width datasets using LTE and non-LTE model atmosphere techniques, in order to determine the stellar atmospheric parameters and abundance estimates for C, N, O, Mg, Al and Si. The latter should be representative of the present-day Galactic interstellar medium. Our extensive observational dataset permits the identification of sub-samples of stars with similar atmospheric parameters and of homogeneous subsets of lines. As such, this investigation represents the most extensive and systematic study of its kind to date. We conclude that the distribution of light elements (CI O, Mg & Si) in the Galactic disk can be represented by a linear, radial gradient of -0.07 +/- 0.01 dex kpc(-1) Our results for nitrogen and oxygen viz. (-0.09 +/- 0.01 dex kpc(-1) and -0.067 +/- 0.008 dex kpc(-1)) are in excellent agreement with that found from the study of HII regions. We have also examined our datasets for evidence of an abrupt discontinuity in the metallicity of the Galactic disk near a Galactocentric distance of 10 kpc (see Twarog et al. 1997). However, there is no evidence to suggest that our data would be better fitted with a two-zone model. Moreover, we observe a N/O gradient of -0.04 +/- 0.02 dex kpc(-1) which is consistent with that found for other spiral galaxies (Vila- Costas gr Edmunds 1993).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)537-554
Number of pages18
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics


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