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Stellar evolution calculations with variable abundance ratios were used to gauge the effects on temperatures, luminosities, and lifetimes in various phases. The individual elements C, N, O, Mg, Si, and Fe were included. Most of the effect relevant to integrated light models is contained in the temperature variable, as opposed to the time-scale or luminosity. We derive a recipe for including abundance-sensitive temperature effects that is applicable to existing isochrone grids. The resultant enhanced isochrones are incorporated into composite stellar population models and compared with galaxy data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. A severe oxygen–age degeneracy is apparent, 2–3 Gyr per 0.1 dex in [O/R], where R represents a heavy element such as Fe. Over the range of early-type galaxy velocity dispersion, the spans of all abundance ratios are reduced but the age range increases and becomes systematically older. Allowing Fe-peak elements the freedom to vary accentuates this increase of age span. Overall, these results sharpen the age–mass correlation known as downsizing but decrease the steepness of abundance ratio gradients. Both of these observations, in turn, imply a more robust contribution from gas-free mergers in the histories of typical elliptical galaxies.


© 2022 The Author(s) Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Royal Astronomical Society. Original published version available at

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Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society





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