The MOSDEF Survey: A Stellar Mass-SFR-Metallicity Relation Exists at z ∼ 2.3

Ryan L. Sanders, Alice E. Shapley, Mariska Kriek, William R. Freeman, Naveen A. Reddy, Brian Siana, Alison L. Coil, Bahram Mobasher, Romeel Davé, Irene Shivaei, Mojegan Azadi, Sedona H. Price, Gene Leung, Tara Fetherholf, Laura De Groot, Tom Zick, Francesca M. Fornasini, Guillermo Barro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

109 Scopus citations


We investigate the nature of the relation among stellar mass, star formation rate, and gas-phase metallicity (the M-SFR-Z relation) at high redshifts using a sample of 260 star-forming galaxies at z∼2.3 from the MOSDEF survey. We present an analysis of the high-redshift M-SFR-Z relation based on several emission-line ratios for the first time. We show that a M-SFR-Z relation clearly exists at z∼2.3. The strength of this relation is similar to predictions from cosmological hydrodynamical simulations. By performing a direct comparison of stacks of z∼0 and z∼2.3 galaxies, we find that z∼2.3 galaxies have ∼0.1 dex lower metallicity at fixed M and SFR. In the context of chemical evolution models, this evolution of the M-SFR-Z relation suggests an increase with redshift of the mass-loading factor at fixed M, as well as a decrease in the metallicity of infalling gas that is likely due to a lower importance of gas recycling relative to accretion from the intergalactic medium at high redshifts. Performing this analysis simultaneously with multiple metallicity-sensitive line ratios allows us to rule out the evolution in physical conditions (e.g., N/O ratio, ionization parameter, and hardness of the ionizing spectrum) at fixed metallicity as the source of the observed trends with redshift and with SFR at fixed M at z∼2.3. While this study highlights the promise of performing high-order tests of chemical evolution models at high redshifts, detailed quantitative comparisons ultimately await a full understanding of the evolution of metallicity calibrations with redshift.

Original languageEnglish
Article number99
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 10 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.


  • galaxies: abundances
  • galaxies: high redshift

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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