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Effect of Infalling Matter on the Heavy Element Content of a Galaxy


I HAVE considered1 some of the possible implications of infall of intergalactic matter in galaxies, a process which was proposed by Oort2 to explain the 21 cm observations of high velocity hydrogen “clouds” in our Galaxy. It was pointed out that infall of matter may have a number of important consequences for the structure and evolution of galaxies. In this communication I shall consider in more detail one of these possible consequences, namely the effect of continuing infall of matter on the composition of the interstellar medium and the Population I component of a galaxy. I shall show that in the presence of infalling matter the heavy element content of the interstellar material will tend to approach a constant value which is independent of both the infall rate and the early history of the galaxy, and depends only on stellar evolution processes.

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  1. Larson, R. B., Nature, 236, 21 (1972).

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  2. Oort, J. H., Astron. Astrophys., 7, 381 (1970).

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  3. Larson, R. B., Mon. Not. Roy. Astron. Soc., 145, 405 (1969).

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  4. McClure, R. D., Astron. J., 74, 50 (1969).

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LARSON, R. Effect of Infalling Matter on the Heavy Element Content of a Galaxy. Nature Physical Science 236, 7–8 (1972).

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