108 research outputs found

    The unorthodox evolution of major merger remnants into star-forming spiral galaxies

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    Galaxy mergers are believed to play a key role in transforming star-forming disk galaxies into quenched ellipticals. Most of our theoretical knowledge about such morphological transformations does, however, rely on idealised simulations where processes such as cooling of hot halo gas into the disk and gas accretion in the post-merger phase are not treated in a self-consistent cosmological fashion. In this paper we study the morphological evolution of the stellar components of four major mergers occurring at z=0.5 in cosmological hydrodynamical zoom-simulations. In all simulations the merger reduces the disk mass-fraction, but all galaxies simulated at our highest resolution regrow a significant disk by z=0 (with a disk fraction larger than 24%). For runs with our default physics model, which includes galactic winds from star formation and black hole feedback, none of the merger remnants are quenched, but in a set of simulations with stronger black hole feedback we find that major mergers can indeed quench galaxies. We conclude that major merger remnants commonly evolve into star-forming disk galaxies, unless sufficiently strong AGN feedback assists in the quenching of the remnant.Comment: 15 pages, 9 figures, Accepted for publication in MNRA

    Zooming in on major mergers: dense, starbursting gas in cosmological simulations

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    We introduce the `Illustris zoom simulation project', which allows the study of selected galaxies forming in the Λ\LambdaCDM cosmology with a 40 times better mass resolution than in the parent large-scale hydrodynamical Illustris simulation. We here focus on the starburst properties of the gas in four cosmological simulations of major mergers. The galaxies in our high-resolution zoom runs exhibit a bursty mode of star formation with gas consumption timescales 10 times shorter than for the normal star formation mode. The strong bursts are only present in the simulations with the highest resolution, hinting that a too low resolution is the reason why the original Illustris simulation showed a dearth of starburst galaxies. Very pronounced bursts of star formation occur in two out of four major mergers we study. The high star formation rates, the short gas consumption timescales and the morphology of these systems strongly resemble observed nuclear starbursts. This is the first time that a sample of major mergers is studied through self-consistent cosmological hydrodynamical simulations instead of using isolated galaxy models setup on a collision course. We also study the orbits of the colliding galaxies and find that the starbursting gas preferentially appears in head-on mergers with very high collision velocities. Encounters with large impact parameters do typically not lead to the formation of starbursting gas.Comment: 13 pages, 7 figures, Accepted for publication in MNRA

    Asymmetric velocity anisotropies in remnants of collisionless mergers

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    Dark matter haloes in cosmological N-body simulations are affected by processes such as mergers, accretion and the gravitational interaction with baryonic matter. Typically the analysis of dark matter haloes is performed in spherical or elliptical bins and the velocity distributions are often assumed to be constant within those bins. However, the velocity anisotropy, which describes differences between the radial and tangential velocity dispersion, has recently been show to have a strong dependence on direction in the triaxial halos formed in cosmological simulations. In this study we derive properties of particles in cones parallel or perpendicular to the collision axis of merger remnants. We find that the velocity anisotropy has a strong dependence on direction. The finding that the direction-dependence of the velocity anisotropy of a halo depends on the merger history, explains the existence of such trends in cosmological simulations. It also explains why a large diversity is seen in the velocity anisotropy profiles in the outer parts of high-resolution simulations of cosmological haloes.Comment: 19 pages, 15 figures, Resubmitted to JCAP after referee comment

    The behaviour of shape and velocity anisotropy in dark matter haloes

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    Dark matter haloes from cosmological N-body simulations typically have triaxial shapes and anisotropic velocity distributions. Recently it has been shown that the velocity anisotropy, beta, of cosmological haloes and major merger remnants depends on direction in such a way that beta is largest along the major axis and smallest along the minor axis. In this work we use a wide range of non-cosmological N-body simulations to examine halo shapes and direction-dependence of velocity anisotropy profiles. For each of our simulated haloes we define 48 cones pointing in different directions, and from the particles inside each cone we compute velocity anisotropy profiles. We find that elongated haloes can have very distinct velocity anisotropies. We group the behaviour of haloes into three different categories, that range from spherically symmetric profiles to a much more complex behaviour, where significant differences are found for beta along the major and minor axes. We encourage future studies of velocity anisotropies in haloes from cosmological simulations to calculate beta-profiles in cones, since it reveals information, which is hidden from a spherically averaged profile. Finally, we show that spherically averaged profiles often obey a linear relation between beta and the logarithmic density slope in the inner parts of haloes, but this relation is not necessarily obeyed, when properties are calculated in cones.Comment: 23 pages, 14 figures. Accepted for publication in JCA

    Particle ejection during mergers of dark matter halos

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    Dark matter halos are built from accretion and merging. During merging some of the dark matter particles may be ejected with velocities higher than the escape velocity. We use both N-body simulations and single-particle smooth-field simulations to demonstrate that rapid changes to the mean field potential are responsible for such ejection, and in particular that dynamical friction plays no significant role in it. Studying a range of minor mergers, we find that typically between 5-15% of the particles from the smaller of the two merging structures are ejected. We also find that the ejected particles originate essentially from the small halo, and more specifically are particles in the small halo which pass later through the region in which the merging occurs.Comment: 18 pages, 12 figures. Accepted for publication in JCA

    Merger-Induced Metallicity Dilution in Cosmological Galaxy Formation Simulations

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    Observational studies have revealed that galaxy pairs tend to have lower gas-phase metallicity than isolated galaxies. This metallicity deficiency can be caused by inflows of low-metallicity gas due to the tidal forces and gravitational torques associated with galaxy mergers, diluting the metal content of the central region. In this work we demonstrate that such metallicity dilution occurs in state-of-the-art cosmological simulations of galaxy formation. We find that the dilution is typically 0.1 dex for major mergers, and is noticeable at projected separations smaller than 4040 kpc. For minor mergers the metallicity dilution is still present, even though the amplitude is significantly smaller. Consistent with previous analysis of observed galaxies we find that mergers are outliers from the \emph{fundamental metallicity relation}, with deviations being larger than expected for a Gaussian distribution of residuals. Our large sample of mergers within full cosmological simulations also makes it possible to estimate how the star formation rate enhancement and gas consumption timescale behave as a function of the merger mass ratio. We confirm that strong starbursts are likely to occur in major mergers, but they can also arise in minor mergers if more than two galaxies are participating in the interaction, a scenario that has largely been ignored in previous work based on idealised isolated merger simulations.Comment: Submitted to MNRA

    An alternate approach to measure specific star formation rates at 2<z<7

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    We trace the specific star formation rate (sSFR) of massive star-forming galaxies ( ⁣1010M\gtrsim\!10^{10}\,\mathcal{M}_\odot) from z2z\sim2 to 7. Our method is substantially different from previous analyses, as it does not rely on direct estimates of star formation rate, but on the differential evolution of the galaxy stellar mass function (SMF). We show the reliability of this approach by means of semi-analytical and hydrodynamical cosmological simulations. We then apply it to real data, using the SMFs derived in the COSMOS and CANDELS fields. We find that the sSFR is proportional to (1+z)1.1±0.2(1+z)^{1.1\pm0.2} at z>2z>2, in agreement with other observations but in tension with the steeper evolution predicted by simulations from z4z\sim4 to 2. We investigate the impact of several sources of observational bias, which however cannot account for this discrepancy. Although the SMF of high-redshift galaxies is still affected by significant errors, we show that future large-area surveys will substantially reduce them, making our method an effective tool to probe the massive end of the main sequence of star-forming galaxies.Comment: ApJ accepte

    The physics of multiphase gas flows: fragmentation of a radiatively cooling gas cloud in a hot wind

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    Galactic winds exhibit a multiphase structure that consists of hot-diffuse and cold-dense phases. Here we present high-resolution idealised simulations of the interaction of a hot supersonic wind with a cold cloud with the moving-mesh code arepo in setups with and without radiative cooling. We demonstrate that cooling causes clouds with sizes larger than the cooling length to fragment in two- and three-dimensional simulations (2D and 3D). We confirm earlier 2D simulations by McCourt et al. 2018 and highlight differences of the shattering processes of 3D clouds that are exposed to a hot wind. The fragmentation process is quantified with a friends-of-friends analysis of shattered cloudlets and density power spectra. Those show that radiative cooling causes the power spectral index to gradually increase when the initial cloud radius is larger than the cooling length and with increasing time until the cloud is fully dissolved in the hot wind. A resolution of around 1 pc is required to reveal the effect of cooling-induced fragmentation of a 100 pc outflowing cloud. Thus, state-of-the-art cosmological zoom simulations of the circumgalactic medium (CGM) fall short by orders of magnitudes from resolving this fragmentation process. This physics is, however, necessary to reliably model observed column densities and covering fractions of Lyman-α\alpha haloes, high-velocity clouds, and broad-line regions of active galactic nuclei.Comment: Accepted for publication in MNRA