SPICA and the Chemical Evolution of Galaxies: The Rise of Metals and Dust

J.A. Fernández-Ontiveros, L. Armus, M. Baes, J. Bernard-Salas, A.D. Bolatto, J. Braine, L. Ciesla, I. De Looze, E. Egami, J. Fischer, M. Giard, E. González-Alfonso, G.L. Granato, C. Gruppioni, M. Imanishi, D. Ishihara, H. Kaneda, S. Madden, M. Malkan, H. Matsuhara, M. Matsuura, T. Nagao, F. Najarro, T. Nakagawa, T. Onaka, S. Oyabu, M. Pereira-Santaella, I. Pérez Fournon, P. Roelfsema, P. Santini, L. Silva, J.-D.T. Smith, L. Spinoglio, F. van der Tak, T. Wada, R. Wu. 2017. SPICA and the Chemical Evolution of Galaxies: The Rise of Metals and Dust. Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia 34, DOI: 10.1017/pasa.2017.43

The physical processes driving the chemical evolution of galaxies in the last similar to 11Gyr cannot be understood without directly probing the dust-obscured phase of star-forming galaxies and active galactic nuclei. This phase, hidden to optical tracers, represents the bulk of the star formation and black hole accretion activity in galaxies at 1 < z < 3. Spectroscopic observations with a cryogenic infrared observatory like SPICA, will be sensitive enough to peer through the dust-obscured regions of galaxies and access the rest-frame mid- to far-infrared range in galaxies at high-z. This wavelength range contains a unique suite of spectral lines and dust features that serve as proxies for the abundances of heavy elements and the dust composition, providing tracers with a feeble response to both extinction and temperature. In this work, we investigate how SPICA observations could be exploited to understand key aspects in the chemical evolution of galaxies: the assembly of nearby galaxies based on the spatial distribution of heavy element abundances, the global content of metals in galaxies reaching the knee of the luminosity function up to z similar to 3, and the dust composition of galaxies at high-z. Possible synergies with facilities available in the late 2020s are also discussed.

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