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Fire in the field: simulating the threshold of galaxy formation

Fitts, Alex and Boylan-Kolchin, Michael and Elbert, Oliver D. and Bullock, James S. and Hopkins, Philip F. and Oñorbe, Jose and Wetzel, Andrew and Wheeler, Coral and Faucher-Giguère, Claude-André and Kereš, Dušan and Skillman, Evan D. and Weisz, Daniel R. (2017) Fire in the field: simulating the threshold of galaxy formation. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 471 (3). pp. 3547-3562. ISSN 0035-8711.

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We present a suite of 15 cosmological zoom-in simulations of isolated dark matter haloes, all with masses of M_(halo) ≈ 10^(10) M_⊙ at z = 0, in order to understand the relationship among halo assembly, galaxy formation and feedback's effects on the central density structure in dwarf galaxies. These simulations are part of the Feedback in Realistic Environments (FIRE) project and are performed at extremely high resolution (m_(baryon) = 500 M_⊙, m_(dm) = 2500 M_⊙). The resultant galaxies have stellar masses that are consistent with rough abundance matching estimates, coinciding with the faintest galaxies that can be seen beyond the virial radius of the Milky Way (M_*/M_⊙ ≈ 10^5 − 10^7). This non-negligible spread in stellar mass at z = 0 in haloes within a narrow range of virial masses is strongly correlated with central halo density or maximum circular velocity V_(max), both of which are tightly linked to halo formation time. Much of this dependence of M_* on a second parameter (beyond M_(halo)) is a direct consequence of the M_(halo) ∼ 10^(10) M_⊙ mass scale coinciding with the threshold for strong reionization suppression: the densest, earliest-forming haloes remain above the UV-suppression scale throughout their histories while late-forming systems fall below the UV-suppression scale over longer periods and form fewer stars as a result. In fact, the latest-forming, lowest-concentration halo in our suite fails to form any stars. Haloes that form galaxies with M_⋆ ≳ 2 × 10^6 M_⊙ have reduced central densities relative to dark-matter-only simulations, and the radial extent of the density modifications is well-approximated by the galaxy half-mass radius r_(1/2). Lower-mass galaxies do not modify their host dark matter haloes at the mass scale studied here. This apparent stellar mass threshold of M_⋆ ≈ 2 × 10^6 − 2 × 10^(−4) M_(halo) is broadly consistent with previous work and provides a testable prediction of FIRE feedback models in Λcold dark matter.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription Paper
Boylan-Kolchin, Michael0000-0002-9604-343X
Hopkins, Philip F.0000-0003-3729-1684
Wetzel, Andrew0000-0003-0603-8942
Kereš, Dušan0000-0002-1666-7067
Additional Information:© 2017 The Authors Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society. Accepted 2017 July 10. Received 2017 July 10; in original form 2016 November 8. MBK and AF acknowledge support from the National Science Foundation (grant AST-1517226). MBK was also partially supported by NASA through HST theory grants (programmes AR-12836, AR-13888, AR-13896, and AR-14282) awarded by the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), which is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), Inc., under NASA contract NAS5-26555. JSB and ODE were supported by NSFAST-1518291, HST-AR-14282 and HST-AR-13888. Support for PFH was provided by an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship, NASA ATP Grant NNX14AH35G, and NSF Collaborative Research Grant 1411920 and CAREER grant 1455342. AW was supported by a Caltech-Carnegie Fellowship, in part through the Moore Center for Theoretical Cosmology and Physics at Caltech, and by NASA through grant HST-GO-14734 from STScI. DK was supported by NSF grant AST-1412153, a Cottrell Scholar award, and funds from the University of California, San Diego. CAFG was supported by NSF through grants AST-1412836 and AST-1517491, by NASA through grant NNX15AB22G, and by STScI through grant HST-AR-14293.001-A. This work used computational resources of the University of Maryland, The University of Texas at Austin and the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC;, the NASA Advanced Supercomputing (NAS) Division and the NASA Center for Climate Simulation (NCCS) through allocations SMD-15-5902, SMD-15-5904, SMD-16-7043 and SMD-16-6991, and the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE, via allocations TG-AST110035, TG-AST130039 and TG-AST140080), which is supported by National Science Foundation grant number OCI-1053575.
Group:Moore Center for Theoretical Cosmology and Physics
Funding AgencyGrant Number
NASA Hubble FellowshipAR-12836
NASA Hubble FellowshipAR-13888
NASA Hubble FellowshipAR-13896
NASA Hubble FellowshipAR-14282
Alfred P. Sloan FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Caltech-Carnegie FellowshipUNSPECIFIED
Caltech Moore Center for Theoretical Cosmology and PhysicsUNSPECIFIED
Cottrell Scholar of Research CorporationUNSPECIFIED
University of CaliforniaUNSPECIFIED
University of San DiegoUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:galaxies: dwarf, galaxies: evolution, galaxies: formation, galaxies: star formation, galaxies: structure, dark matter
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20170921-142943803
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Alex Fitts, Michael Boylan-Kolchin, Oliver D. Elbert, James S. Bullock, Philip F. Hopkins, Jose Oñorbe, Andrew Wetzel, Coral Wheeler, Claude-André Faucher-Giguère, Dušan Kereš, Evan D. Skillman, Daniel R. Weisz; FIRE in the field: simulating the threshold of galaxy formation, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 471, Issue 3, 1 November 2017, Pages 3547–3562,
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:81700
Deposited By: Ruth Sustaita
Deposited On:22 Sep 2017 16:52
Last Modified:22 Sep 2017 16:52

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