Gas Flows and the Chemical Evolution of Galaxies: III. Graphical Analysis and Secondary Elements
ABSTRACT The general structure of the solutions of the chemical evolution equations of a galaxy undergoing an arbitrary time-dependent accretion of metal-free gas is studied with graphical analysis. The behaviour is determined by the time-evolution of the ratio a of accretion to star formation rate. This gives rise to two distinct regimes: (a) If a decreases monotonically with time, the properties are always between those predicted from the Simple Model and a Linear Accretion Model; the stellar mean metallicity and the abundance ratio of secondary and primary elements ratio are thus restricted to a narrow range of a factor of 2. (b) Lower gas metallicities, larger secondary/primary ratios and stellar metallicities, than expected from the Linear Accretion Models can only be reached if the accretion rate increases rapidly to a value larger than the star formation rate, e.g. by sudden massive accretion of gas into highly evolved gas-poor galaxies.