Free Access
Volume 377, Number 1, October I 2001
Page(s) 132 - 147
Section Formation, structure and evolution of stars
Published online 15 October 2001

A&A 377, 132-147 (2001)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20011086

Coupling emitted light and chemical yields from stars: A basic constraint to population synthesis models of galaxies

P. Marigo1, 2 and L. Girardi2, 1

1  Max-Planck-Institut für Astrophysik, Karl-Schwarzschild-Str. 1, 85741 Garching bei München, Germany
2  Dipartimento di Astronomia, Università di Padova, Vicolo dell'Osservatorio 2, 35122 Padova, Italy

(Received 11 January 2001 / Accepted 20 July 2001 )

In this paper we emphasize the close connection between the chemical and spectrophotometric evolution of stellar systems: chemical yields from stars correspond to a precise fraction of their emitted light. We translate this concept quantitatively. Starting from simple stellar populations, we derive useful analytical relations to calculate the stellar fuel consumption (emitted light) as a function of basic quantities predicted by stellar models, i.e. the mass of the core and the chemical composition of the envelope. The final formulas explicate the relation between integrated light contribution (total or limited to particular evolutionary phases), chemical yields and stellar remnants. We test their accuracy in the case of low- and intermediate-mass stars, and indicate the way to extend the analysis to massive stars. This formalism provides an easy tool to check the internal consistency between the different stellar inputs adopted in galaxy models: the fuel computed by means of the analytical formulas (corresponding to a given set of chemical yields) should be compared to the exact values given by the luminosity integration along the stellar evolutionary tracks or isochrones (corresponding to a given set of spectrophotometric models). Only if both estimates of the fuel are similar, the stellar inputs can be considered self-consistent in terms of their energetics. This sets an important requirement to galaxy models, also in consideration of the fact that different sources of input stellar data are frequently used to model their spectro-photometric and chemical evolution.

Key words: stars: evolution -- stars: abundances -- galaxies: evolution -- galaxies: abundances

Offprint request: P. Marigo,

© ESO 2001

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