Gas Accretion and Galactic Chemical Evolution: Theory and Observations

  • Kristian FinlatorEmail author
Part of the Astrophysics and Space Science Library book series (ASSL, volume 430)


This chapter reviews how galactic inflows influence galaxy metallicity. The goal is to discuss predictions from theoretical models, but particular emphasis is placed on the insights that result from using models to interpret observations. Even as the classical “G-dwarf problem” endures in the latest round of observational confirmation, a rich and tantalizing new phenomenology of relationships between M, Z, SFR, and gas fraction is emerging both in observations and in theoretical models. A consensus interpretation is emerging in which star-forming galaxies do most of their growing in a quiescent way that balances gas inflows and gas processing, and metal dilution with enrichment. Models that explicitly invoke this idea via equilibrium conditions can be used to infer inflow rates from observations, while models that do not assume equilibrium growth tend to recover it self-consistently. Mergers are an overall subdominant mechanism for delivering fresh gas to galaxies, but they trigger radial flows of previously accreted gas that flatten radial gas-phase metallicity gradients and temporarily suppress central metallicities. Radial gradients are generically expected to be steep at early times and then flattened by mergers and enriched inflows of recycled gas at late times. However, further theoretical work is required in order to understand how to interpret observations. Likewise, more observational work is needed in order to understand how metallicity gradients evolve to high redshifts.


Star Formation High Redshift Stellar Mass Star Formation Rate Cosmological Simulation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The author thanks R. Davé and A. Fox for offering him the opportunity to contribute this chapter, and for their patience as he drafted it. Additional thanks go to A. Klypin for detailed and honest comments on an early version.


  1. Andrews, B. H., & Martini, P. 2013, ApJ, 765, 140ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Behroozi, P. S., Wechsler, R. H., & Conroy, C. 2013, ApJ, 770, 57ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Birrer, S., Lilly, S., Amara, A., Paranjape, A., & Refregier, A. 2014, ApJ, 793, 12ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bothwell, M. S., Maiolino, R., Kennicutt, R., et al. 2013, MNRAS, 433, 1425ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bothwell, M. S., Maiolino, R., Cicone, C., Peng, Y., & Wagg, J. 2016, arXiv:1606.04102Google Scholar
  6. Bouché, N., Dekel, A., Genzel, R., et al. 2010, ApJ, 718, 1001ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bouché, N., & Blandin, S. 2015, Revolution in Astronomy with ALMA: The Third Year, 499, 63ADSGoogle Scholar
  8. Brook, C. B., Stinson, G., Gibson, B. K., et al. 2012, MNRAS, 419, 771ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Brook, C. B., Stinson, G., Gibson, B. K., et al. 2014, MNRAS, 443, 3809ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Brown, J. S., Martini, P., & Andrews, B. H. 2016, MNRAS, 458, 1529ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Carton, D., Brinchmann, J., Wang, J., et al. 2015, MNRAS, 451, 210ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Casuso, E., & Beckman, J. E. 2004, A&A, 419, 181ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Christensen, C. R., Davé, R., Governato, F., et al. 2016, ApJ, 824, 57ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Cooper, M. C., Tremonti, C. A., Newman, J. A., & Zabludoff, A. I. 2008, MNRAS, 390, 245ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Cousin, M., Buat, V., Boissier, S., et al. 2016, A&A, 589, A109ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Cresci, G., Mannucci, F., Maiolino, R., et al. 2010, Nature, 467, 811ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Cresci, G., Mannucci, F., Sommariva, V., et al. 2012, MNRAS, 421, 262ADSGoogle Scholar
  18. Cullen, F., Cirasuolo, M., McLure, R. J., Dunlop, J.S., & Bowler, R.A.A. 2014, MNRAS, 440, 2300ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Dalcanton, J. J. 2007, ApJ, 658, 941ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Davé, R. 2008, MNRAS, 385, 147ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Davé, R., Finlator, K., & Oppenheimer, B. D. 2011, MNRAS, 416, 1354ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Davé, R., Finlator, K., & Oppenheimer, B. D. 2012, MNRAS, 421, 98ADSGoogle Scholar
  23. Davé, R., Thompson, R. J., & Hopkins, P. F. 2016, arXiv:1604.01418Google Scholar
  24. Dayal, P., Ferrara, A., & Dunlop, J. S. 2013, MNRAS, 430, 2891ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Dekel, A., & Birnboim, Y. 2006, MNRAS, 368, 2ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Dekel, A., & Mandelker, N. 2014, MNRAS, 444, 2071ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. de los Reyes, M. A., Ly, C., Lee, J. C., et al. 2015, AJ, 149, 79Google Scholar
  28. De Rossi, M. E., Theuns, T., Font, A. S., & McCarthy, I. G. 2015, MNRAS, 452, 486ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Dutton, A. A., van den Bosch, F. C., & Dekel, A. 2010, MNRAS, 405, 1690ADSGoogle Scholar
  30. Ellison, S. L., Patton, D. R., Simard, L., & McConnachie, A. W. 2008, ApJ, 672, L107ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Erb, D. K., Shapley, A. E., Pettini, M., et al. 2006, ApJ, 644, 813ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Feldmann, R. 2013, MNRAS, 433, 1910ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Faisst, A. L., Capak, P. L., Davidzon, I., et al. 2016, ApJ, 822, 29ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Finlator, K., & Davé, R. 2008, MNRAS, 385, 2181ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Forbes, J. C., Krumholz, M. R., Burkert, A., & Dekel, A. 2014a, MNRAS, 438, 1552Google Scholar
  36. Forbes, J. C., Krumholz, M. R., Burkert, A., & Dekel, A. 2014b, MNRAS, 443, 168Google Scholar
  37. Fu, J., Kauffmann, G., Huang, M.-l., et al. 2013, MNRAS, 434, 1531Google Scholar
  38. Genel, S. 2016, ApJ, 822, 107ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Gerola, H., Seiden, P. E., & Schulman, L. S. 1980, ApJ, 242, 517ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Grasshorn Gebhardt, H. S., Zeimann, G. R., Ciardullo, R., et al. 2016, ApJ, 817, 10ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Grønnow, A. E., Finlator, K., & Christensen, L. 2015, MNRAS, 451, 4005ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Gnedin, N. Y. 2000, ApJ, 542, 535ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Guo, Y., Koo, D. C., Lu, Y., et al. 2016, ApJ, 822, 103ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Henriques, B. M. B., White, S. D. M., Thomas, P. A., et al. 2013, MNRAS, 431, 3373ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Henry, A., Martin, C. L., Finlator, K., & Dressler, A. 2013, ApJ, 769, 148ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Ho, I.-T., Kudritzki, R.-P., Kewley, L. J., et al. 2015, MNRAS, 448, 2030ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Hopkins, P. F., Kereš, D., Oñorbe, J., et al. 2014, MNRAS, 445, 581ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Hughes, T. M., Cortese, L., Boselli, A., Gavazzi, G., & Davies, J. I. 2013, A&A, 550, A115ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Hunt, L., Magrini, L., Galli, D., et al. 2012, MNRAS, 427, 906ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Hunt, L., Dayal, P., Magrini, L., & Ferrara, A. 2016, MNRAS,Google Scholar
  51. Jones, T., Ellis, R. S., Richard, J., & Jullo, E. 2013, ApJ, 765, 48ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Kacprzak, G. G., van de Voort, F., Glazebrook, K., et al. 2016, ApJ, 826, L11ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Kereš, D., Katz, N., Weinberg, D. H., & Davé, R. 2005, MNRAS, 363, 2ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Kewley, L. J., Rupke, D., Zahid, H. J., Geller, M. J., & Barton, E. J. 2010, ApJ, 721, L48ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Kirby, E. N., Cohen, J. G., Smith, G. H., et al. 2011, ApJ, 727, 79ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Köppen, J., & Edmunds, M. G. 1999, MNRAS, 306, 317ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Lagos, C. d. P., Theuns, T., Schaye, J., et al. 2016, MNRAS, 459, 2632Google Scholar
  58. Lara-López, M. A., Cepa, J., Bongiovanni, A., et al. 2010, A&A, 521, L53ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Lara-López, M. A., Hopkins, A. M., López-Sánchez, A. R., et al. 2013, MNRAS, 433, L35ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Lilly, S. J., Carollo, C. M., Pipino, A., Renzini, A., & Peng, Y. 2013, ApJ, 772, 119ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Ma, X., Hopkins, P. F., Faucher-Giguère, C.-A., et al. 2016, MNRAS, 456, 2140ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Magrini, L., Hunt, L., Galli, D., et al. 2012, MNRAS, 427, 1075ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Maier, C., Lilly, S. J., Ziegler, B. L., et al. 2014, ApJ, 792, 3ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Maiolino, R., Nagao, T., Grazian, A., et al. 2008, A&A, 488, 463ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Mannucci, F., Cresci, G., Maiolino, R., Marconi, A., & Gnerucci, A. 2010, MNRAS, 408, 2115ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Martin, C. L., Kobulnicky, H. A., & Heckman, T. M. 2002, ApJ, 574, 663ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Michel-Dansac, L., Lambas, D. G., Alonso, M. S., & Tissera, P. 2008, MNRAS, 386, L82ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Mitra, S., Davé, R., & Finlator, K. 2015, MNRAS, 452, 1184ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Mitra, S., Davé, R., Simha, V., & Finlator, K. 2016, arXiv:1606.07436Google Scholar
  70. Moster, B. P., Somerville, R. S., Maulbetsch, C., et al. 2010, ApJ, 710, 903ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Mouhcine, M., Baldry, I. K., & Bamford, S. P. 2007, MNRAS, 382, 801ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Muratov, A. L., Kereš, D., Faucher-Giguère, C.-A., et al. 2015, MNRAS, 454, 2691ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Murray, N., Quataert, E., & Thompson, T. A. 2005, ApJ, 618, 569ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Nakajima, K., & Ouchi, M. 2014, MNRAS, 442, 900ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Nelson, D., Vogelsberger, M., Genel, S., et al. 2013, MNRAS, 429, 3353ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Nelson, D., Genel, S., Vogelsberger, M., et al. 2015, MNRAS, 448, 59ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Obreja, A., Brook, C. B., Stinson, G., et al. 2014, MNRAS, 442, 1794ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Okamoto, T., Gao, L., & Theuns, T. 2008, MNRAS, 390, 920ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Oppenheimer, B. D., Davé, R., Kereš, D., et al. 2010, MNRAS, 406, 2325ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Pagel, B. E. J., & Patchett, B. E. 1975, MNRAS, 172, 13ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Papovich, C., Finkelstein, S. L., Ferguson, H. C., Lotz, J. M., & Giavalisco, M. 2011, MNRAS, 412, 1123ADSGoogle Scholar
  82. Peng, Y.-j., & Maiolino, R. 2014, MNRAS, 438, 262Google Scholar
  83. Pilkington, K., Few, C. G., Gibson, B. K., et al. 2012, A&A, 540, A56ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Pipino, A., Lilly, S. J., & Carollo, C. M. 2014, MNRAS, 441, 1444ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. Rathaus, B., & Sternberg, A. 2016, MNRAS, 458, 3168ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. Rupke, D. S. N., Kewley, L. J., & Chien, L.-H. 2010b, ApJ, 723, 1255Google Scholar
  87. Rupke, D. S. N., Kewley, L. J., & Barnes, J. E. 2010a, ApJ, 710, L156Google Scholar
  88. Salim, S., Lee, J. C., Ly, C., et al. 2014, ApJ, 797, 126ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  89. Salim, S., Lee, J. C., Davé, R., & Dickinson, M. 2015, ApJ, 808, 25ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  90. Sanders, R. L., Shapley, A. E., Kriek, M., et al. 2015, ApJ, 799, 138ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  91. Schaye, J., Crain, R. A., Bower, R. G., et al. 2015, MNRAS, 446, 521ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  92. Schmidt, M. 1963, ApJ, 137, 758ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  93. Schlesinger, K. J., Johnson, J. A., Rockosi, C. M., et al. 2012, ApJ, 761, 160ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  94. Sánchez, S. F., Rosales-Ortega, F. F., Jungwiert, B., et al. 2013, A&A, 554, A58ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  95. Scudder, J. M., Ellison, S. L., Torrey, P., Patton, D. R., & Mendel, J. T. 2012, MNRAS, 426, 549ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  96. Scudder, J. M., Patton, D. R., Ellison, S. L., Torrey, P., & Mendel, J. T. 2013, Galaxy Mergers in an Evolving Universe, ASP Conf. Ser. 477, San Francisco:ASP, p241Google Scholar
  97. Somerville, R. S., & Davé, R. 2015, ARA&A, 53, 51ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  98. Springel, V., White, S. D. M., Jenkins, A., et al. 2005, Nature, 435, 629ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  99. Steidel, C. C., Rudie, G. C., Strom, A. L., et al. 2014, ApJ, 795, 165ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  100. Stott, J. P., Sobral, D., Bower, R., et al. 2013, MNRAS, 436, 1130ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  101. Tacconi, L. J., Neri, R., Genzel, R., et al. 2013, ApJ, 768, 74ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  102. Telford, O. G., Dalcanton, J. J., Skillman, E. D., & Conroy, C. 2016, ApJ, 827, 35ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  103. Tinsley, B. M., & Larson, R. B. 1978, ApJ, 221, 554ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  104. Tinsley, B. M. 1980, Fundamentals of Cosmic Physics, 5, 287ADSGoogle Scholar
  105. Torrey, P., Cox, T. J., Kewley, L., & Hernquist, L. 2012, ApJ, 746, 108ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  106. Tremonti, C. A., Heckman, T. M., Kauffmann, G., et al. 2004, ApJ, 613, 898ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  107. van Dokkum, P. G. 2008, ApJ, 674, 29–50ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  108. Veilleux, S., Cecil, G., & Bland-Hawthorn, J. 2005, ARA&A, 43, 769ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  109. Weinmann, S. M., Pasquali, A., Oppenheimer, B. D., et al. 2012, MNRAS, 426, 2797ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  110. Whitaker, K. E., van Dokkum, P. G., Brammer, G., & Franx, M. 2012, ApJ, 754, L29ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  111. White, S. D. M., & Frenk, C. S. 1991, ApJ, 379, 52ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  112. White, S. D. M., & Rees, M. J. 1978, MNRAS, 183, 341ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  113. White, C. E., Somerville, R. S., & Ferguson, H. C. 2015, ApJ, 799, 201ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  114. Wise, J. H., Demchenko, V. G., Halicek, M. T., et al. 2014, MNRAS, 442, 2560ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  115. Wolfe, A. M., Gawiser, E., & Prochaska, J. X. 2005, ARA&A, 43, 861ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  116. Wu, H.-Y., Doré, O., & Teyssier, R. 2016, arXiv:1607.02546Google Scholar
  117. Wuyts, E., Wisnioski, E., Fossati, M., et al. 2016, ApJ, 827, 74ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  118. Yates, R. M., Kauffmann, G., & Guo, Q. 2012, MNRAS, 422, 215ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  119. Yuan, T.-T., Kewley, L. J., Swinbank, A. M., Richard, J., & Livermore, R. C. 2011, ApJ, 732, L14ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  120. Zahid, H. J., Bresolin, F., Kewley, L. J., Coil, A. L., & Davé, R. 2012, ApJ, 750, 120ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  121. Zaritsky, D., Kennicutt, R. C., Jr., & Huchra, J. P. 1994, ApJ, 420, 87ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.New Mexico State UniversityLas CrucesUSA

Personalised recommendations