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The distribution of metals in groups of galaxies holds important information about the chemical enrichment history of the Universe. Here we present radial profiles of temperature and the abundance of iron and silicon of the hot intragroup medium for a sample of 15 nearby groups of galaxies observed by Chandra, selected for their regular X-ray morphology. All but one group display a cool core, the size of which is found to correlate with the mean temperature of the group derived outside this core. When scaled to this mean temperature, the temperature profiles are remarkably similar, being analogous to those of more massive clusters at large radii but significantly flatter inwards of the temperature peak. The Fe abundance generally shows a central excess followed by a radial decline, reaching a typical value of 0.1 Z(circle dot) within r(500), a factor of 2 lower than corresponding results for clusters. Si shows less systematic radial variation, on average displaying a less pronounced decline than Fe and showing evidence for a flattening at large radii. Off-centre abundance peaks are seen both for Fe and Si in a number of groups with well-resolved cores. Derived abundance ratios indicate that supernovae type Ia are responsible for 80 per cent of the Fe in the group core, but the type II contribution increases with radius and completely dominates at r(500). We present fitting formulae for the radial dependence of temperature and abundances, to facilitate comparison to results of numerical simulations of group formation and evolution. In a companion paper, we discuss the implications of these results for feedback and enrichment in galaxy groups.
- X-rays : galaxies : clusters
- intergalactic medium
- galaxies : clusters : general