Simulations of the formation of late-type spiral galaxies in a cold dark matter (ΛCDM) universe have traditionally failed to yield realistic candidates. Here we report a new cosmological N-body/smooth particle hydrodynamic simulation of extreme dynamic range in which a close analog of a Milky Way disk galaxy arises naturally. Named "Eris," the simulation follows the assembly of a galaxy halo of mass M vir = 7.9 × 1011 M ☉ with a total of N = 18.6 million particles (gas + dark matter + stars) within the final virial radius, and a force resolution of 120 pc. It includes radiative cooling, heating from a cosmic UV field and supernova explosions (blastwave feedback), a star formation recipe based on a high gas density threshold (n SF = 5 atoms cm-3 rather than the canonical n SF = 0.1 atoms cm-3), and neglects any feedback from an active galactic nucleus. Artificial images are generated to correctly compare simulations with observations. At the present epoch, the simulated galaxy has an extended rotationally supported disk with a radial scale length Rd = 2.5 kpc, a gently falling rotation curve with circular velocity at 2.2 disk scale lengths of V 2.2 = 214 km s-1, an i-band bulge-to-disk ratio B/D = 0.35, and a baryonic mass fraction within the virial radius that is 30% below the cosmic value. The disk is thin, has a typical H I-to-stellar mass ratio, is forming stars in the region of the ΣSFR-ΣH I plane occupied by spiral galaxies, and falls on the photometric Tully-Fisher and the stellar-mass-halo-virial-mass relations. Hot (T > 3 × 105 K) X-ray luminous halo gas makes up only 26% of the universal baryon fraction and follows a "flattened" density profile vpropr -1.13 out to r = 100 kpc. Eris appears then to be the first cosmological hydrodynamic simulation in which the galaxy structural properties, the mass budget in the various components, and the scaling relations between mass and luminosity are all consistent with a host of observational constraints. A twin simulation with a low star formation density threshold results in a galaxy with a more massive bulge and a much steeper rotation curve, as in previously published work. A high star formation threshold appears therefore key in obtaining realistic late-type galaxies, as it enables the development of an inhomogeneous interstellar medium where star formation and heating by supernovae occur in a clustered fashion. The resulting outflows at high redshifts reduce the baryonic content of galaxies and preferentially remove low-angular-momentum gas, decreasing the mass of the bulge component. Simulations of even higher resolution that follow the assembly of galaxies with different merger histories shall be used to verify our results.
The Astrophysical Journal
- Pub Date:
- December 2011
- galaxies: formation;
- Astrophysics - Cosmology and Nongalactic Astrophysics
- 12 pages, 7 figures, accepted for publication on the Astrophysical Journal