Galaxy And Mass Assembly (GAMA): The inferred mass-metallicity relation from z = 0 to 3.5 via forensic SED fitting

Sabine Bellstedt, Aaron Robotham, Simon Driver, Jessica Thorne, Luke Davies, Benne W. Holwerda, Andrew M. Hopkins, Maritza A. Lara-López, Angel Lopez-Sanchez, Steven Phillipps

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We analyse the metallicity histories of ∼4500 galaxies from the GAMA survey at z < 0.06 modelled by the SED-fitting code PROSPECT using an evolving metallicity implementation. These metallicity histories, in combination with the associated star formation histories, allow us to analyse the inferred gas-phase mass–metallicity relation. Furthermore, we extract the mass– metallicity relation at a sequence of epochs in cosmic history, to track the evolving mass–metallicity relation with time. Through comparison with observations of gas-phase metallicity over a large range of redshifts, we show that, remarkably, our forensic SED analysis has produced an evolving mass–metallicity relationship that is consistent with observations at all epochs. We additionally analyse the three-dimensional mass–metallicity–SFR space, showing that galaxies occupy a clearly defined plane. This plane is shown to be subtly evolving, displaying an increased tilt with time caused by general enrichment, and also the slowing down of star formation with cosmic time. This evolution is most apparent at lookback times greater than 7 Gyr. The trends in metallicity recovered in this work highlight that the evolving metallicity implementation used within the SED-fitting code PROSPECT produces reasonable metallicity results over the history of a galaxy. This is expected to provide a significant improvement to the accuracy of the SED-fitting outputs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3309–3325
Number of pages17
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2021


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