MONTHLY NOTICES OF THE ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY, vol.421, pp.3362-3374, 2012 (SCI-Expanded)
We investigate radial and vertical metallicity gradients for a sample of red clump stars from the RAdial Velocity Experiment (RAVE) Data Release 3. We select a total of 6781 stars, using a selection of colour, surface gravity and uncertainty in the derived space motion, and calculate for each star a probabilistic (kinematic) population assignment to a thin or thick disc using space motion and additionally another (dynamical) assignment using stellar vertical orbital eccentricity. We derive almost equal metallicity gradients as a function of the Galactocentric distance for the high-probability thin-disc stars and for stars with vertical orbital eccentricities consistent with being dynamically young, ev= 0.07, i.e. d[M/H]/dRm=-0.041 +/- 0.003 and d[M/H]/dRm=-0.041 +/- 0.007 dex kpc-1. Metallicity gradients as a function of the distance from the Galactic plane for the same populations are steeper, i.e. d[M/H]/dzmax=-0.109 +/- 0.008 and d[M/H]/dzmax=-0.260 +/- 0.031 dex kpc-1, respectively. Rm and zmax are the arithmetic mean of the perigalactic and apogalactic distances, and the maximum distance to the Galactic plane, respectively. Samples including more thick-disc red clump giant stars show systematically shallower abundance gradients. These findings can be used to distinguish between different formation scenarios of the thick and thin discs.