We use IllustrisTNG simulations to investigate the mass-metallicity relation (MZR) evolution of star-forming cluster galaxies as a function of the formation history of galaxy clusters. The simulations predict enhancement in the gas-phase metallicities of star-forming cluster galaxies (10^9<M_<10^10 M_sun) at z<1.0 compared to field galaxies, consistent with observations. We find that the metallicity enhancement of cluster galaxies appears prior to their infall into the central cluster potential, indicating for the first time a systematic “chemical pre-processing” signature for infalling cluster galaxies. The chemical pre-processing signature is constrained to be ~0.05 dex on the MZR and appears below z<0.5. Based on the gas inflow rate and the metallicity of the inflowing gas, we identify the pre-enriched gas accretion as a key driver of the chemical evolution in overdense environments, particularly for galaxies in the stellar mass range 10^9< M_<10^10 M_sun. The inflow of pre-enriched gas is effective out to twice the virial radius. Our results motivate future observations looking for pre-enrichment signatures in dense environments.
A. Gupta, T. Yuan, P. Torrey, et. al.
Fri, 12 Jan 18
Comments: 5 pages, 4 figures, submitted to MNRAS