skip to main content

Title: Testing galaxy formation simulations with damped Lyman-α abundance and metallicity evolution
ABSTRACT

We examine the properties of damped Lyman-α absorbers (DLAs) emerging from a single set of cosmological initial conditions in two state-of-the-art cosmological hydrodynamic simulations: simba and technicolor dawn. The former includes star formation and black hole feedback treatments that yield a good match with low-redshift galaxy properties, while the latter uses multifrequency radiative transfer to model an inhomogeneous ultraviolet background (UVB) self-consistently and is calibrated to match the Thomson scattering optical depth, UVB amplitude, and Ly α forest mean transmission at z > 5. Both simulations are in reasonable agreement with the measured stellar mass and star formation rate functions at z ≥ 3, and both reproduce the observed neutral hydrogen cosmological mass density, $\Omega _{\rm H\, \small{I}}(z)$. However, the DLA abundance and metallicity distribution are sensitive to the galactic outflows’ feedback and the UVB amplitude. Adopting a strong UVB and/or slow outflows underproduces the observed DLA abundance, but yields broad agreement with the observed DLA metallicity distribution. By contrast, faster outflows eject metals to larger distances, yielding more metal-rich DLAs whose observational selection may be more sensitive to dust bias. The DLA metallicity distribution in models adopting an H2-regulated star formation recipe includes a tail extending to [M/H] ≪ −3, lower than any more » DLA observed to date, owing to curtailed star formation in low-metallicity galaxies. Our results show that DLA observations play an important role in constraining key physical ingredients in galaxy formation models, complementing traditional ensemble statistics such as the stellar mass and star formation rate functions.

« less
Authors:
 ;  ;  ;  ;  
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10131403
Journal Name:
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Volume:
492
Issue:
2
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
p. 2835-2846
ISSN:
0035-8711
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. ABSTRACT We develop a hybrid model of galactic chemical evolution that combines a multiring computation of chemical enrichment with a prescription for stellar migration and the vertical distribution of stellar populations informed by a cosmological hydrodynamic disc galaxy simulation. Our fiducial model adopts empirically motivated forms of the star formation law and star formation history, with a gradient in outflow mass loading tuned to reproduce the observed metallicity gradient. With this approach, the model reproduces many of the striking qualitative features of the Milky Way disc’s abundance structure: (i) the dependence of the [O/Fe]–[Fe/H] distribution on radius Rgal and mid-plane distance |z|; (ii) the changing shapes of the [O/H] and [Fe/H] distributions with Rgal and |z|; (iii) a broad distribution of [O/Fe] at sub-solar metallicity and changes in the [O/Fe] distribution with Rgal, |z|, and [Fe/H]; (iv) a tight correlation between [O/Fe] and stellar age for [O/Fe] > 0.1; (v) a population of young and intermediate-age α-enhanced stars caused by migration-induced variability in the Type Ia supernova rate; (vi) non-monotonic age–[O/H] and age–[Fe/H] relations, with large scatter and a median age of ∼4 Gyr near solar metallicity. Observationally motivated models with an enhanced star formation rate ∼2 Gyr ago improve agreement with the observed age–[Fe/H] and age–[O/H] relations, but worsen agreement with the observed age–[O/Fe]more »relation. None of our models predict an [O/Fe] distribution with the distinct bimodality seen in the observations, suggesting that more dramatic evolutionary pathways are required. All code and tables used for our models are publicly available through the Versatile Integrator for Chemical Evolution (VICE; https://pypi.org/project/vice).« less
  2. Abstract Type Ia supernovae are critical for feedback and elemental enrichment in galaxies. Recent surveys like the All-Sky Automated Survey for Supernova (ASAS-SN) and the Dark Energy Survey (DES) find that the specific supernova Ia rate at z ∼ 0 may be ≲ 20 − 50 × higher in lower-mass galaxies than at Milky Way-mass. Independently, observations show that the close-binary fraction of solar-type Milky Way stars is higher at lower metallicity. Motivated by these observations, we use the FIRE-2 cosmological zoom-in simulations to explore the impact of metallicity-dependent rate models on galaxies of $M_* \sim 10^7\, \rm {M}_{\odot }-10^{11}\, \rm {M}_{\odot }$. First, we benchmark our simulated star-formation histories (SFHs) against observations, and show that assumed stellar mass functions play a major role in determining the degree of tension between observations and metallicity-independent rate models, potentially causing ASAS-SN and DES observations to agree more than might appear. Models in which the supernova Ia rate increases with decreasing metallicity ($\propto Z^{-0.5 \; \rm {to} \; -1}$) provide significantly better agreement with observations. Encouragingly, these rate increases (≳ 10 × in low-mass galaxies) do not significantly impact galaxy masses and morphologies, which remain largely unaffected except for our most extreme models.more »We explore implications for both [Fe/H] and [$\alpha /\rm {Fe}$] enrichment; metallicity-dependent rate models can improve agreement with the observed stellar mass-metallicity relations in low-mass galaxies. Our results demonstrate that a range of metallicity-dependent rate models are viable for galaxy formation and motivate future work.« less
  3. Abstract

    We report a NOrthern Extended Millimeter Array (NOEMA) and Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array search for redshifted CO emission from the galaxies associated with seven high-metallicity ([M/H] ≥ −1.03) damped Lyαabsorbers (DLAs) atz≈ 1.64–2.51. Our observations yielded one new detection of CO(3–2) emission from a galaxy atz= 2.4604 using NOEMA, associated with thez= 2.4628 DLA toward QSO B0201+365. Including previous searches, our search results in detection rates of CO emission of5624+38% and119+26%, respectively, in the fields of DLAs with [M/H] > −0.3 and [M/H] < −0.3. Further, the Hi–selected galaxies associated with five DLAs with [M/H] > −0.3 all have high molecular gas masses, ≳5 × 1010M. This indicates that the highest-metallicity DLAs atz≈ 2 are associated with the most massive galaxies. The newly identifiedz≈ 2.4604 Hi–selected galaxy, DLA0201+365g, has an impact parameter of ≈7 kpc to the QSO sightline, and an implied molecular gas mass of (5.04 ± 0.78) × 1010× (αCO/4.36) × (r31/0.55)M. Archival Hubble Space Telescope Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 imaging covering the rest-frame near-ultraviolet (NUV) and far-ultraviolet (FUV) emission from this galaxy yield nondetections of rest-frame NUV and FUV emission, and a 5σupper limit of 2.3Myr−1on the unobscuredmore »star formation rate (SFR). The low NUV-based SFR estimate, despite the very high molecular gas mass, indicates that DLA0201+365g either is a very dusty galaxy, or has a molecular gas depletion time that is around 2 orders of magnitude larger than that of star-forming galaxies at similar redshifts.

    « less
  4. ABSTRACT

    We investigate stellar elemental abundance patterns at $z$ = 0 in eight low-mass ($M_{*}=10^{6}{-}10^{9}\ \text{M}_{\odot }$) galaxies in the Feedback in Realistic Environments cosmological simulations. Using magnesium (Mg) as a representative α-element, we explore stellar abundance patterns in magnesium-to-iron ([Mg/Fe]) versus iron-to-hydrogen ([Fe/H]), which follow an overall monotonic trend that evolved slowly over time. Additionally, we explore three notable secondary features in enrichment (in three different case-study galaxies) that arise from a galaxy merger or bursty star formation. First, we observe a secondary track with a lower [Mg/Fe] than the main trend. At $z$ = 0, stars from this track are predominantly found within 2–6 kpc of the centre; they were accreted in a 1:3 total-mass-ratio merger ∼0.4 Gyr ago. Second, we find a distinct elemental bimodality that forms following a strong burst in star formation in a galaxy at $t_{\text{lookback}}\, \sim 10$ Gyr. This burst quenched star formation for ∼0.66 Gyr, allowing Type Ia supernovae to enrich the system with iron (Fe) before star formation resumed. Third, we examine stripes in enrichment that run roughly orthogonal to the dominant [Mg/Fe] versus [Fe/H] trend; these stripes correspond to short bursts of star formation during which core-collapse supernovae enrich the surrounding medium with Mg (andmore »Fe) on short time-scales. If observed, these features would substantiate the utility of elemental abundances in revealing the assembly and star-formation histories of dwarf galaxies. We explore the observability of these features for upcoming spectroscopic studies. Our results show that precise measurements of elemental abundance patterns can reveal critical events in the formation histories of low-mass galaxies.

    « less
  5. Abstract The H i gas content is a key ingredient in galaxy evolution, the study of which has been limited to moderate cosmological distances for individual galaxies due to the weakness of the hyperfine H i 21 cm transition. Here we present a new approach that allows us to infer the H i gas mass M HI of individual galaxies up to z ≈ 6, based on a direct measurement of the [C ii ]-to-H i conversion factor in star-forming galaxies at z ≳ 2 using γ -ray burst afterglows. By compiling recent [C ii ]-158 μ m emission line measurements we quantify the evolution of the H i content in galaxies through cosmic time. We find that M HI starts to exceed the stellar mass M ⋆ at z ≳ 1, and increases as a function of redshift. The H i fraction of the total baryonic mass increases from around 20% at z = 0 to about 60% at z ∼ 6. We further uncover a universal relation between the H i gas fraction M HI / M ⋆ and the gas-phase metallicity, which seems to hold from z ≈ 6 to z = 0. The majority of galaxiesmore »at z > 2 are observed to have H i depletion times, t dep,HI = M HI /SFR, less than ≈2 Gyr, substantially shorter than for z ∼ 0 galaxies. Finally, we use the [C ii ]-to-H i conversion factor to determine the cosmic mass density of H i in galaxies, ρ HI , at three distinct epochs: z ≈ 0, z ≈ 2, and z ∼ 4–6. These measurements are consistent with previous estimates based on 21 cm H i observations in the local universe and with damped Ly α absorbers (DLAs) at z ≳ 2, suggesting an overall decrease by a factor of ≈5 in ρ HI ( z ) from the end of the reionization epoch to the present.« less