Low masses and high redshifts: The evolution of the mass-metallicity relation

Alaina Henry, Claudia Scarlata, Alberto Domínguez, Matthew Malkan, Crystal L. Martin, Brian Siana, Hakim Atek, Alejandro G. Bedregal, James W. Colbert, Marc Rafelski, Nathaniel Ross, Harry Teplitz, Andrew J. Bunker, Alan Dressler, Nimish Hathi, Daniel Masters, Patrick McCarthy, Amber Straughn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

108 Scopus citations


We present the first robust measurement of the high redshift mass-metallicity (MZ) relation at 108 ≲ M/M ≲ 1010, obtained by stacking spectra of 83 emission-line galaxies with secure redshifts between 1.3 ≲ z ≲ 2.3. For these redshifts, infrared grism spectroscopy with the Hubble Space Telescope Wide Field Camera 3 is sensitive to the R 23 metallicity diagnostic: ([O II] λλ3726, 3729 + [O III] λλ4959, 5007)/Hβ. Using spectra stacked in four mass quartiles, we find a MZ relation that declines significantly with decreasing mass, extending from 12+log(O/H) = 8.8 at M = 109.8 M , to 12+log(O/H) = 8.2 at M = 10 8.2 M . After correcting for systematic offsets between metallicity indicators, we compare our MZ relation to measurements from the stacked spectra of galaxies with M ≳ 109.5 M and z ∼ 2.3. Within the statistical uncertainties, our MZ relation agrees with the z ∼ 2.3 result, particularly since our somewhat higher metallicities (by around 0.1 dex) are qualitatively consistent with the lower mean redshift (z = 1.76) of our sample. For the masses probed by our data, the MZ relation shows a steep slope which is suggestive of feedback from energy-driven winds, and a cosmological downsizing evolution where high mass galaxies reach the local MZ relation at earlier times. In addition, we show that our sample falls on an extrapolation of the star-forming main sequence (the SFR-M * relation) at this redshift. This result indicates that grism emission-line selected samples do not have preferentially high star formation rates (SFRs). Finally, we report no evidence for evolution of the mass-metallicity-SFR plane; our stack-averaged measurements show excellent agreement with the local relation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL27
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 20 2013


  • galaxies: abundances
  • galaxies: evolution


Dive into the research topics of 'Low masses and high redshifts: The evolution of the mass-metallicity relation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this