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    The star formation and gas content of satellite galaxies around the Milky Way (MW) and Andromeda (M31) are depleted relative to more isolated galaxies in the Local Group (LG) at fixed stellar mass. We explore the environmental regulation of gas content and quenching of star formation in z = 0 galaxies at $M_{*}=10^{5\!-\!10}\, \rm {M}_{\odot }$ around 14 MW-mass hosts from the Feedback In Realistic Environments 2 (FIRE-2) simulations. Lower mass satellites ($M_{*}\lesssim 10^7\, \rm {M}_{\odot }$) are mostly quiescent and higher mass satellites ($M_{*}\gtrsim 10^8\, \rm {M}_{\odot }$) are mostly star forming, with intermediate-mass satellites ($M_{*}\approx 10^{7\!-\!8}\, \rm {M}_{\odot }$) split roughly equally between quiescent and star forming. Hosts with more gas in their circumgalactic medium have a higher quiescent fraction of massive satellites ($M_{*}=10^{8\!-\!9}\, \rm {M}_{\odot }$). We find no significant dependence on isolated versus paired (LG-like) host environments, and the quiescent fractions of satellites around MW-mass and Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC)-mass hosts from the FIRE-2 simulations are remarkably similar. Environmental effects that lead to quenching can also occur as pre-processing in low-mass groups prior to MW infall. Lower mass satellites typically quenched before MW infall as central galaxies or rapidly during infall into a low-mass group ormore »a MW-mass galaxy. Most intermediate- to high-mass quiescent satellites have experienced ≥1–2 pericentre passages (≈2.5–5 Gyr) within a MW-mass halo. Most galaxies with $M_{*}\gtrsim 10^{6.5}\, \rm {M}_{\odot }$ did not quench before falling into a host, indicating a possible upper mass limit for isolated quenching. The simulations reproduce the average trend in the LG quiescent fraction across the full range of satellite stellar masses. Though the simulations are consistent with the Satellites Around Galactic Analogs (SAGA) survey’s quiescent fraction at $M_{*}\gtrsim 10^8\, \rm {M}_{\odot }$, they do not generally reproduce SAGA’s turnover at lower masses.

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    Galaxy mergers are crucial to understanding galaxy evolution, therefore we must determine their observational signatures to select them from large IFU galaxy samples such as MUSE and SAMI. We employ 24 high-resolution idealized hydrodynamical galaxy merger simulations based on the ‘Feedback In Realistic Environment’ (FIRE-2) model to determine the observability of mergers to various configurations and stages using synthetic images and velocity maps. Our mergers cover a range of orbital configurations at fixed 1:2.5 stellar mass ratio for two gas rich spirals at low redshift. Morphological and kinematic asymmetries are computed for synthetic images and velocity maps spanning each interaction. We divide the interaction sequence into three: (1) the pair phase; (2) the merging phase; and (3) the post-coalescence phase. We correctly identify mergers between first pericentre passage and 500 Myr after coalescence using kinematic asymmetry with 66 per cent completeness, depending upon merger phase and the field of view of the observation. We detect fewer mergers in the pair phase (40 per cent) and many more in the merging and post-coalescence phases (97 per cent). We find that merger detectability decreases with field of view, except in retrograde mergers, where centrally concentrated asymmetric kinematic features enhances their detectability. Using a cut-off derived from a combinationmore »of photometric and kinematic asymmetry, we increase these detections to 89 per cent overall, 79 per cent in pairs, and close to 100 per cent in the merging and post-coalescent phases. By using this combined asymmetry cut-off we mitigate some of the effects caused by smaller fields of view subtended by massively multiplexed integral field spectroscopy programmes.

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  3. Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 1, 2023

    We use FIRE simulations to study disc formation in z ∼ 0, Milky Way-mass galaxies, and conclude that a key ingredient for the formation of thin stellar discs is the ability for accreting gas to develop an aligned angular momentum distribution via internal cancellation prior to joining the galaxy. Among galaxies with a high fraction ($\gt 70{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$) of their young stars in a thin disc (h/R ∼ 0.1), we find that: (i) hot, virial-temperature gas dominates the inflowing gas mass on halo scales (≳20 kpc), with radiative losses offset by compression heating; (ii) this hot accretion proceeds until angular momentum support slows inward motion, at which point the gas cools to $\lesssim 10^4\, {\rm K}$; (iii) prior to cooling, the accreting gas develops an angular momentum distribution that is aligned with the galaxy disc, and while cooling transitions from a quasi-spherical spatial configuration to a more-flattened, disc-like configuration. We show that the existence of this ‘rotating cooling flow’ accretion mode is strongly correlated with the fraction of stars forming in a thin disc, using a sample of 17 z ∼ 0 galaxies spanning a halo mass range of 1010.5 M⊙ ≲ Mh ≲ 1012 M⊙ and stellarmore »mass range of 108 M⊙ ≲ M⋆ ≲ 1011 M⊙. Notably, galaxies with a thick disc or irregular morphology do not undergo significant angular momentum alignment of gas prior to accretion and show no correspondence between halo gas cooling and flattening. Our results suggest that rotating cooling flows (or, more generally, rotating subsonic flows) that become coherent and angular momentum-supported prior to accretion on to the galaxy are likely a necessary condition for the formation of thin, star-forming disc galaxies in a ΛCDM universe.

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  5. null (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT We investigate thin and thick stellar disc formation in Milky Way-mass galaxies using 12 FIRE-2 cosmological zoom-in simulations. All simulated galaxies experience an early period of bursty star formation that transitions to a late-time steady phase of near-constant star formation. Stars formed during the late-time steady phase have more circular orbits and thin-disc-like morphology at z = 0, while stars born during the bursty phase have more radial orbits and thick-disc structure. The median age of thick-disc stars at z = 0 correlates strongly with this transition time. We also find that galaxies with an earlier transition from bursty to steady star formation have a higher thin-disc fractions at z = 0. Three of our systems have minor mergers with Large Magellanic Cloud-size satellites during the thin-disc phase. These mergers trigger short starbursts but do not destroy the thin disc nor alter broad trends between the star formation transition time and thin/thick-disc properties. If our simulations are representative of the Universe, then stellar archaeological studies of the Milky Way (or M31) provide a window into past star formation modes in the Galaxy. Current age estimates of the Galactic thick disc would suggest that the Milky Way transitioned from bursty to steady phasemore »∼6.5 Gyr ago; prior to that time the Milky Way likely lacked a recognizable thin disc.« less
  6. ABSTRACT We investigate the spatial structure and evolution of star formation and the interstellar medium (ISM) in interacting galaxies. We use an extensive suite of parsec-scale galaxy-merger simulations (stellar mass ratio = 2.5:1), which employs the ‘Feedback In Realistic Environments-2’ model (fire-2). This framework resolves star formation, feedback processes, and the multiphase structure of the ISM. We focus on the galaxy-pair stages of interaction. We find that close encounters substantially augment cool (H i) and cold-dense (H2) gas budgets, elevating the formation of new stars as a result. This enhancement is centrally concentrated for the secondary galaxy, and more radially extended for the primary. This behaviour is weakly dependent on orbital geometry. We also find that galaxies with elevated global star formation rate (SFR) experience intense nuclear SFR enhancement, driven by high levels of either star formation efficiency (SFE) or available cold-dense gas fuel. Galaxies with suppressed global SFR also contain a nuclear cold-dense gas reservoir, but low SFE levels diminish SFR in the central region. Concretely, in the majority of cases, SFR enhancement in the central kiloparsec is fuel-driven (55 per cent for the secondary, 71 per cent for the primary) – while central SFR suppression is efficiency-driven (91 per cent for the secondary, 97 per cent formore »the primary). Our numerical predictions underscore the need of substantially larger, and/or merger-dedicated, spatially resolved galaxy surveys – capable of examining vast and diverse samples of interacting systems – coupled with multiwavelength campaigns aimed to capture their internal ISM structure.« less
  7. null (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT We explore the origin of stellar metallicity gradients in simulated and observed dwarf galaxies. We use FIRE-2 cosmological baryonic zoom-in simulations of 26 isolated galaxies as well as existing observational data for 10 Local Group dwarf galaxies. Our simulated galaxies have stellar masses between 105.5 and 108.6 M⊙. Whilst gas-phase metallicty gradients are generally weak in our simulated galaxies, we find that stellar metallicity gradients are common, with central regions tending to be more metal-rich than the outer parts. The strength of the gradient is correlated with galaxy-wide median stellar age, such that galaxies with younger stellar populations have flatter gradients. Stellar metallicty gradients are set by two competing processes: (1) the steady ‘puffing’ of old, metal-poor stars by feedback-driven potential fluctuations and (2) the accretion of extended, metal-rich gas at late times, which fuels late-time metal-rich star formation. If recent star formation dominates, then extended, metal-rich star formation washes out pre-existing gradients from the ‘puffing’ process. We use published results from ten Local Group dwarf galaxies to show that a similar relationship between age and stellar metallicity-gradient strength exists among real dwarfs. This suggests that observed stellar metallicity gradients may be driven largely by the baryon/feedback cycle rather thanmore »by external environmental effects.« less
  8. ABSTRACT Understanding the rate at which stars form is central to studies of galaxy formation. Observationally, the star formation rates (SFRs) of galaxies are measured using the luminosity in different frequency bands, often under the assumption of a time-steady SFR in the recent past. We use star formation histories (SFHs) extracted from cosmological simulations of star-forming galaxies from the FIRE project to analyse the time-scales to which the H α and far-ultraviolet (FUV) continuum SFR indicators are sensitive. In these simulations, the SFRs are highly time variable for all galaxies at high redshift, and continue to be bursty to z = 0 in dwarf galaxies. When FIRE SFHs are partitioned into their bursty and time-steady phases, the best-fitting FUV time-scale fluctuates from its ∼10 Myr value when the SFR is time-steady to ≳100 Myr immediately following particularly extreme bursts of star formation during the bursty phase. On the other hand, the best-fitting averaging time-scale for H α is generally insensitive to the SFR variability in the FIRE simulations and remains ∼5 Myr at all times. These time-scales are shorter than the 100 and 10 Myr time-scales sometimes assumed in the literature for FUV and H α, respectively, because while the FUV emission persists for stellar populations oldermore »than 100 Myr, the time-dependent luminosities are strongly dominated by younger stars. Our results confirm that the ratio of SFRs inferred using H α versus FUV can be used to probe the burstiness of star formation in galaxies.« less
  9. Synopsis Mitochondrial function is critical for energy homeostasis and should shape how genetic variation in metabolism is transmitted through levels of biological organization to generate stability in organismal performance. Mitochondrial function is encoded by genes in two distinct and separately inherited genomes—the mitochondrial genome and the nuclear genome—and selection is expected to maintain functional mito-nuclear interactions. The documented high levels of polymorphism in genes involved in these mito-nuclear interactions and wide variation for mitochondrial function demands an explanation for how and why variability in such a fundamental trait is maintained. Potamopyrgus antipodarum is a New Zealand freshwater snail with coexisting sexual and asexual individuals and, accordingly, contrasting systems of separate vs. co-inheritance of nuclear and mitochondrial genomes. As such, this snail provides a powerful means to dissect the evolutionary and functional consequences of mito-nuclear variation. The lakes inhabited by P. antipodarum span wide environmental gradients, with substantial across-lake genetic structure and mito-nuclear discordance. This situation allows us to use comparisons across reproductive modes and lakes to partition variation in cellular respiration across genetic and environmental axes. Here, we integrated cellular, physiological, and behavioral approaches to quantify variation in mitochondrial function across a diverse set of wild P. antipodarum lineages. Wemore »found extensive across-lake variation in organismal oxygen consumption and behavioral response to heat stress and differences across sexes in mitochondrial membrane potential but few global effects of reproductive mode. Taken together, our data set the stage for applying this important model system for sexual reproduction and polyploidy to dissecting the complex relationships between mito-nuclear variation, performance, plasticity, and fitness in natural populations.« less

    Galaxy sizes correlate closely with the sizes of their parent dark matter haloes, suggesting a link between halo formation and galaxy growth. However, the precise nature of this relation and its scatter remains to be understood fully, especially for low-mass galaxies. We analyse the galaxy–halo size relation (GHSR) for low-mass ($M_\star \sim 10^{7-9}\, {\rm M}_\odot$) central galaxies over the past 12.5 billion years with the help of cosmological volume simulations (FIREbox) from the Feedback in Realistic Environments (FIRE) project. We find a nearly linear relationship between the half-stellar mass galaxy size R1/2 and the parent dark matter halo virial radius Rvir. This relation evolves only weakly since redshift z = 5: $R_{1/2}\, [{\rm kpc}] = (0.053\pm 0.002)(R_{\rm vir}/35\, {\rm kpc})^{0.934\pm 0.054}$, with a nearly constant scatter $\langle \sigma \rangle = 0.084\, [{\rm dex}]$. While this ratio is similar to what is expected from models where galaxy disc sizes are set by halo angular momentum, the low-mass galaxies in our sample are not angular momentum supported, with stellar rotational to circular velocity ratios vrot/vcirc ∼ 0.15. Introducing redshift as another parameter to the GHSR does not decrease the scatter. Furthermore, this scatter does not correlate with any of the halo propertiesmore »we investigate – including spin and concentration – suggesting that baryonic processes and feedback physics are instead critical in setting the scatter in the GHSR. Given the relatively small scatter and the weak dependence of the GHSR on redshift and halo properties for these low-mass central galaxies, we propose using galaxy sizes as an independent method from stellar masses to infer halo masses.

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