The chemical evolution of local star forming galaxies: Radial profiles of ISM metallicity, gas mass, and stellar mass and constraints on galactic accretion and winds
The radially averaged metallicity distribution of the ISM and the young stellar population of a sample of 20 disk galaxies is investigated by means of an analytical chemical evolution model which assumes constant ratios of galactic wind mass loss and accretion mass gain to star formation rate. Based on this model the observed metallicities and their gradients can be described surprisingly well by the radially averaged distribution of the ratio of stellar mass to ISM gas mass. The comparison between observed and model predicted metallicity is used to constrain the rate of mass loss through galactic wind and accretion gain in units of the star formation rate. Three groups of galaxies are found: galaxies with either mostly winds and only weak accretion, or mostly accretion and only weak winds, and galaxies where winds are roughly balanced by accretion. The three groups are distinct in the properties of their gas disks. Galaxies with approximately equal rates of mass-loss and accretion gain have low metallicity, atomic hydrogen dominated gas disks with a flat spatial profile. The other two groups have gas disks dominated by molecular hydrogen out to 0.5 to 0.7 isophotal radii and show a radial exponential decline, which is on average steeper for the galaxies with small accretion rates. The rates of accretion (<1.0 x SFR) and outflow (<2.4 x SFR) are relatively low. The latter depend on the calibration of the zero point of the metallicity determination from the use of HII region strong emission lines.