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Impacts of a flaring star-forming disc and stellar radial mixing on the vertical metallicity gradient

Kawata, Daisuke; Grand, Robert J. J.; Gibson, Brad K.; Casagrande, Luca; Hunt, Jason A. S.; Brook, Chris B.


Chris B. Brook

Luca Casagrande

Robert J. J. Grand

Jason A. S. Hunt

Daisuke Kawata


Using idealized N-body simulations of a Milky Way-sized disc galaxy, we qualitatively study how the metallicity distributions of the thin disc star particles are modified by the formation of the bar and spiral arm structures. The thin disc in our numerical experiments initially has a tight negative radial metallicity gradient and a constant vertical scaleheight. We show that the radial mixing of stars drives a positive vertical metallicity gradient in the thin disc. On the other hand, if the initial thin disc is flared, with vertical scaleheight increasing with galactocentric radius, the metal-poor stars, originally in the outer disc, become dominant in regions above the disc plane at every radii. This process can drive a negative vertical metallicity gradient, which is consistent with the current observed trend. This model mimics a scenario where the star-forming thin disc was flared in the outer region at earlier epochs. Our numerical experiment with an initial flared disc predicts that the negative vertical metallicity gradient of the mono-age relatively young thin disc population should be steeper in the inner disc, and the radial metallicity gradient of the mono-age population should be shallower at greater heights above the disc plane. We also predict that the metallicity distribution function of mono-age young thin disc populations above the disc plane would be more positively skewed in the inner disc compared to the outer disc.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 2017
Journal Monthly notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Print ISSN 0035-8711
Electronic ISSN 1365-2966
Publisher Oxford University Press (OUP)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 464
Issue 1
Pages 702-712
Keywords Methods: numerical, Galaxy: disc, Galaxy: kinematics and dynamics
Publisher URL
Copyright Statement © 2016 The Authors. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society
Additional Information Copy of article first published in: Monthly notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 2017, v.464, issue 1


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