Abstract Observations show that star-forming galaxies reside on a tight three-dimensional plane between mass, gas-phase metallicity and star formation rate (SFR), which can be explained by the interplay between metal-poor gas inflows, SFR and outflows. However, different metals are released on different time-scales, which may affect the slope of this relation. Here, we use central, star-forming galaxies with Mstar = 109.0 − 10.5 M⊙ from the EAGLE hydrodynamical simulation to examine three-dimensional relations between mass, SFR and chemical enrichment using absolute and relative C, N, O and Fe abundances. We show that the scatter is smaller when gas-phase α-enhancement is used rather than metallicity. A similar plane also exists for stellar α-enhancement, implying that present-day specific SFRs are correlated with long time-scale star formation histories. Between z = 0 and 1, the α-enhancement plane is even more insensitive to redshift than the plane using metallicity. However, it evolves at z > 1 due to lagging iron yields. At fixed mass, galaxies with higher SFRs have star formation histories shifted toward late times, are more α-enhanced and this α-enhancement increases with redshift as observed. These findings suggest that relations between physical properties inferred from observations may be affected by systematic variations in α-enhancements. galaxies: formation, galaxies: evolution, galaxies: star formation, galaxies: abundances © 2018 The Author(s) Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices)
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters – Oxford University Press
Published: May 25, 2018
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