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A possible theoretical explanation of metallicity gradients in elliptical galaxies

Abstract

Models of chemical evolution of elliptical galaxies taking into account different escape velocities at different galactocentric radii are presented. As a consequence of this, the chemical evolution develops differently in different galactic regions; in particular, we find that the galactic wind, powered by supernovae (of type II and I) starts, under suitable conditions, in the outer regions and successively develops in the central ones. The rate of star formation (SFR) is assumed to stop after the onset of the galactic wind in each region. The main result found in the present work is that this mechanism is able to reproduce metallicity gradients, namely the gradients in the Mg2Mg_2 index, in good agreement with observational data. We also find that in order to honor the constant [Mg/Fe] ratio with galactocentric distance, as inferred from metallicity indices, a variable initial mass function as a function of galactocentric distance is required. This is only a suggestion since trends on abundances inferred just from metallicity indices are still uncertain.Comment: 18 pages, LaTeX file with 4 figures using mn.sty, submitted to MNRA

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