Chemical evolution with radial mixing




Models of the chemical evolution of our Galaxy are extended to include radial migration of stars and flow of gas through the disc. The models track the production of both iron and α-elements. A model is chosen that provides an excellent fit to the metallicity distribution of stars in the Geneva–Copenhagen survey (GCS) of the solar neighbourhood and a good fit to the local Hess diagram. The model provides a good fit to the distribution of GCS stars in the age–metallicity plane, although this plane was not used in the fitting process. Although this model's star formation rate is monotonically declining, its disc naturally splits into an α-enhanced thick disc and a normal thin disc. In particular, the model's distribution of stars in the ([O/Fe], [Fe/H]) plane resembles that of Galactic stars in displaying a ridge line for each disc. The thin-disc's ridge line is entirely due to stellar migration, and there is the characteristic variation of stellar angular momentum along it that has been noted by Haywood in survey data. Radial mixing of stellar populations with high σz from inner regions of the disc to the solar neighbourhood provides a natural explanation of why measurements yield a steeper increase of σz with age than predicted by theory. The metallicity gradient in the interstellar medium is predicted to be steeper than in earlier models, but appears to be in good agreement with data for both our Galaxy and external galaxies. The models are inconsistent with a cut-off in the star formation rate at low gas surface densities. The absolute magnitude of the disc is given as a function of time in several photometric bands, and radial colour profiles are plotted for representative times.