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The quest for a better understanding of the evolution of massive galaxies can be broadly summarised with 2 questions: how did they build up their large (stellar) masses and what eventually quenched their star formation (SF)? To tackle these questions, we use high-resolution ramses simulations (Teyssier 2002) to study several aspects of the detailed interplay between accretion (mergers and cold flows), SF and feedback in individual galaxies. We examine SF in major mergers; a process crucial to stellar mass assembly. We explore whether the merger-induced, clustered SF is as important a mechanism in average mergers, as it is in extreme systems like the Antennae. We find that interaction-induced turbulence drives up the velocity dispersion, and that there is a correlated rise in SFR in all our simulated mergers as the density pdf evolves to have an excess of very dense gas. Next, we introduce a new study into whether mechanical jet feedback can impact upon the ability of hot gas haloes to provide a supply of fuel for SF during mergers and in their remnants. Finally, we briefly review our recent study, in which we examine the effect of supernova (SN) feedback on galaxies accreting via the previously overlooked cold-mode, by resimulating a stream-fed galaxy at z ~ 9. A far-reaching galactic wind results yet it cannot suppress the cold, filamentary accretion or eject significant mass in order to reduce the SFR, suggesting that SN feedback may not be as effective as is often assumed.
Two of the dominant channels for galaxy mass assembly are cold flows (cold gas supplied via the filaments of the cosmic web) and mergers. How these processes combine in a cosmological setting, at both low and high redshift, to produce the whole zoo of galaxies we observe is largely unknown. Indeed there is still much to understand about the detailed physics of each process in isolation. While these formation channels have been studied using hydrodynamical simulations, here we study their impact on gas properties and star formation (SF) with some of the first from simulations that capture the multiphase, cloudy nature of the interstellar medium (ISM), by virtue of their high spatial resolution (and corresponding low temperature threshold). In this regime, we examine the competition between cold flows and a supernovae(SNe)-driven outflow in a very high-redshift galaxy (z ≈ 9) and study the evolution of equal-mass galaxy mergers at low and high redshift, focusing on the induced SF. We find that SNe-driven outflows cannot reduce the cold accretion at z ≈ 9 and that SF is actually enhanced due to the ensuing metal enrichment. We demonstrate how several recent observational results on galaxy populations (e.g. enhanced HCN/CO ratios in ULIRGs, a separate Kennicutt Schmidt (KS) sequence for starbursts and the population of compact early type galaxies (ETGs) at high redshift) can be explained with mechanisms captured in galaxy merger simulations, provided that the multiphase nature of the ISM is resolved.
Galaxy interactions and mergers play a significant, but still debated and poorly understood role in the star formation history of galaxies. Numerical and theoretical models cannot yet explain the main properties of merger-induced starbursts, including their intensity and their spatial extent. Usually, the mechanism invoked in merger-induced starbursts is a global inflow of gas towards the central kpc, resulting in a nuclear starburst. We show here, using high-resolution AMR simulations and comparing to observations of the gas component in mergers, that the triggering of starbursts also results from increased ISM turbulence and velocity dispersions in interacting systems. This forms cold gas that are denser and more massive than in quiescent disk galaxies. The fraction of dense cold gas largely increases, modifying the global density distribution of these systems, and efficient star formation results. Because the starbursting activity is not just from a global compacting of the gas to higher average surface densities, but also from higher turbulence and fragmentation into massive and dense clouds, merging systems can enter a different regime of star formation compared to quiescent disk galaxies. This is in quantitative agreement with recent observations suggesting that disk galaxies and starbursting systems are not the low-activity end and high-activity end of a single regime, but actually follow different scaling relations for their star formation.
The interstellar medium (ISM) in galaxies is multiphase and cloudy, with stars forming in the very dense, cold gas found in Giant Molecular Clouds (GMCs). Simulating the evolution of an entire galaxy, however, is a computational problem which covers many orders of magnitude, so many simulations cannot reach densities high enough or temperatures low enough to resolve this multiphase nature. Therefore, the formation of GMCs is not captured and the resulting gas distribution is smooth, contrary to observations. We investigate how star formation (SF) proceeds in simulated galaxies when we obtain parsec-scale resolution and more successfully capture the multiphase ISM. Both major mergers and the accretion of cold gas via filaments are dominant contributors to a galaxy's total stellar budget and we examine SF at high resolution in both of these contexts.
Various differences in galaxy cluster properties derived from X-ray and weak lensing observations have been highlighted in the literature. One such difference is the observation of mass concentrations in lensing maps which have no X-ray counterparts (e.g. Jee, White, Ford et al. 2005). We investigate this issue by identifying substructures in maps of projected total mass (analogous to weak lensing mass reconstructions) and maps of projected X-ray surface brightness for three simulated clusters. We then compare the 2D mass substructures with both 3D subhalo data and the 2D X-ray substructures. Here we present preliminary results from the first comparison, where we have assessed the impact of projecting the data on subhalo identification.
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