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Prospects for Extending the Mass-Metallicity Relation to Low Mass at High Redshift: A Case Study at z ∼ 1

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We report J-band MOSFIRE spectroscopy of a low-mass () star-forming galaxy at z = 0.997 showing the detection of [N ii] and [S ii] alongside a strong H line. We derive a gas-phase metallicity of , placing this object in a region of M ∗-Z space that is sparsely populated at this redshift. Furthermore, many existing metallicity measurements in this M ∗-z regime are derived from only [N ii]/H (N2), a diagnostic widely used in high-redshift metallicity studies despite the known strong degeneracy with the ionization parameter and resulting large systematic uncertainty. We demonstrate that even in a regime where [N ii] and [S ii] are at the detection limit and the measurement uncertainty associated with the [N ii]/[S ii] ratio is high (S/N ≈ 3), the more sophisticated Dopita et al. diagnostic provides an improved constraint compared to N2 by reducing the systematic uncertainty due to the ionization parameter. This approach does not, however, dispel uncertainty associated with stochastic or systematic variations in the nitrogen-to-oxygen abundance ratio. While this approach improves upon N2, future progress in extending metallicity studies into this low-mass regime will require larger samples to allow for stochastic variations, as well as careful consideration of the global trends among dwarf galaxies in all physical parameters, not just metallicity.

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