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  1. ABSTRACT

    We introduce an analytic surface density profile for dark matter haloes that accurately reproduces the structure of simulated haloes of mass Mvir = 107–1011 M⊙, making it useful for modelling line-of-sight (LOS) perturbers in strong gravitational lensing models. The two-parameter function has an analytic deflection potential and is more accurate than the projected Navarro, Frenk, and White profile commonly adopted at this mass scale for perturbers, especially at the small radii of most relevant for lensing perturbations. Using a characteristic radius, R−1, where the log slope of surface density is equal to −1, and an associated surface density, Σ−1, we can represent the expected lensing signal from LOS haloes statistically, for an ensemble of halo orientations, using a distribution of projected concentration parameters, $\mathcal {C}_{\rm vir} := r_{\rm vir}/ R_{-1}$. Though an individual halo can have a projected concentration that varies with orientation with respect to the observer, the range of projected concentrations correlates with the usual three-dimensional halo concentration in a way that enables ease of use.

     
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  2. ABSTRACT

    JWST observations have revealed a population of galaxies bright enough that potentially challenge standard galaxy formation models in the Λ cold dark matter (ΛCDM) cosmology. Using a minimal empirical framework, we investigate the influence of variability on the rest-frame ultra-violet (UV) luminosity function of galaxies at z ≥ 9. Our study differentiates between the median UV radiation yield and the variability of UV luminosities of galaxies at a fixed dark matter halo mass. We primarily focus on the latter effect, which depends on halo assembly and galaxy formation processes and can significantly increase the abundance of UV-bright galaxies due to the upscatter of galaxies in lower-mass haloes. We find that a relatively low level of variability, σUV ≈ 0.75 mag, matches the observational constraints at z ≈ 9. However, increasingly larger σUV is necessary when moving to higher redshifts, reaching $\sigma _{\rm UV} \approx 2.0\, (2.5)\, {\rm mag}$ at z ≈ 12 (16). This implied variability is consistent with expectations of physical processes in high-redshift galaxies such as bursty star formation and dust clearance during strong feedback cycles. Photometric constraints from JWST at z ≳ 9 therefore can be reconciled with a standard ΛCDM-based galaxy formation model calibrated at lower redshifts without the need for adjustments to the median UV radiation yield.

     
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  3. Abstract

    The shape and orientation of dark matter (DM) halos are sensitive to the microphysics of the DM particles, yet in many mass models, the symmetry axes of the Milky Way’s DM halo are often assumed to be aligned with the symmetry axes of the stellar disk. This is well motivated for the inner DM halo, but not for the outer halo. We use zoomed-in cosmological baryonic simulations from the Latte suite of FIRE-2 Milky Way–mass galaxies to explore the evolution of the DM halo’s orientation with radius and time, with or without a major merger with a Large Magellanic Cloud analog, and when varying the DM model. In three of the four cold DM halos we examine, the orientation of the halo minor axis diverges from the stellar disk vector by more than 20° beyond about 30 galactocentric kpc, reaching a maximum of 30°–90°, depending on the individual halo’s formation history. In identical simulations using a model of self-interacting DM withσ= 1 cm2g−1, the halo remains aligned with the stellar disk out to ∼200–400 kpc. Interactions with massive satellites (M≳ 4 × 1010Mat pericenter;M≳ 3.3 × 1010Mat infall) affect the orientation of the halo significantly, aligning the halo’s major axis with the satellite galaxy from the disk to the virial radius. The relative orientation of the halo and disk beyond 30 kpc is a potential diagnostic of self-interacting DM, if the effects of massive satellites can be accounted for.

     
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  4. Abstract

    The absolute age of a simple stellar population is of fundamental interest for a wide range of applications but is difficult to measure in practice, as it requires an understanding of the uncertainties in a variety of stellar evolution processes as well as the uncertainty in the distance, reddening, and composition. As a result, most studies focus only on the relative age by assuming that stellar evolution calculations are accurate and using age determinations techniques that are relatively independent of distance and reddening. Here, we construct 20,000 sets of theoretical isochrones through Monte Carlo simulation using the Dartmouth Stellar Evolution Program to measure the absolute age of the globular cluster M92. For each model, we vary a range of input physics used in the stellar evolution models, including opacities, nuclear reaction rates, diffusion coefficients, atmospheric boundary conditions, helium abundance, and treatment of convection. We also explore variations in the distance and reddening as well as its overall metallicity andαenhancement. We generate simulated Hess diagrams around the main-sequence turn-off region from each set of isochrones and use a Voronoi binning method to fit the diagrams to Hubble Space Telescope Advanced Camera for Surveys data. We find the age of M92 to be 13.80 ± 0.75 Gyr. The 5.4% error in the absolute age is dominated by the uncertainty in the distance to M92 (∼80% of the error budget); of the remaining parameters, only the total metallicity,αelement abundance, and treatment of helium diffusion contribute significantly to the total error.

     
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  5. ABSTRACT

    Low-mass galaxies are highly susceptible to environmental effects that can efficiently quench star formation. We explore the role of ram pressure in quenching low-mass galaxies ($M_{*}\sim 10^{5}{-}10^{9}\, \rm {M}_{\odot }$) within 2 Mpc of Milky Way (MW) hosts using the FIRE-2 simulations. Ram pressure is highly variable across different environments, within individual MW haloes, and for individual low-mass galaxies over time. The impulsiveness of ram pressure – the maximum ram pressure scaled to the integrated ram pressure prior to quenching – correlates with whether a galaxy is quiescent or star forming. The time-scale between maximum ram pressure and quenching is anticorrelated with impulsiveness, such that high impulsiveness corresponds to quenching time-scales <1 Gyr. Galaxies in low-mass groups ($M_\mathrm{*,host}10^{7}{-}10^{9}\, \rm {M}_{\odot }$) outside of MW haloes experience typical ram pressure only slightly lower than ram pressure on MW satellites, helping to explain effective quenching via group preprocessing. Ram pressure on MW satellites rises sharply with decreasing distance to the host, and, at a fixed physical distance, more recent pericentre passages are typically associated with higher ram pressure because of greater gas density in the inner host halo at late times. Furthermore, the ram pressure and gas density in the inner regions of Local Group-like paired host haloes are higher at small angles off the host galaxy disc compared to isolated hosts. The quiescent fraction of satellites within these low-latitude regions is also elevated in the simulations and observations, signaling possible anisotropic quenching via ram pressure around MW-mass hosts.

     
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  6. Abstract

    We study how supersonic streaming velocities of baryons relative to dark matter—a large-scale effect imprinted at recombination and coherent over ∼3 Mpc scales—affect the formation of dwarf galaxies atz≳ 5. We perform cosmological hydrodynamic simulations, including and excluding streaming velocities, in regions centered on halos withMvir(z= 0) ≈ 1010M; the simulations are part of the Feedback In Realistic Environments (FIRE) project and run with FIRE-3 physics. Our simulations comprise many thousands of systems with halo masses betweenMvir= 2 × 105Mand 2 × 109Min the redshift rangez= 20–5. A few hundred of these galaxies form stars and have stellar masses ranging from 100 to 107M. While star formation is globally delayed by approximately 50 Myr in the streaming relative to nonstreaming simulations and the number of luminous galaxies is correspondingly suppressed at high redshift in the streaming runs, these effects decay with time. Byz= 5, the properties of the simulated galaxies are nearly identical in the streaming versus nonstreaming runs, indicating that any effects of streaming velocities on the properties of galaxies at the mass scale of classical dwarfs and larger do not persist toz= 0.

     
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  7. Abstract

    We present the lifetime star formation histories (SFHs) for six ultrafaint dwarf (UFD;MV> − 7.0,4.9<log10(M*(z=0)/M)<5.5) satellite galaxies of M31 based on deep color–magnitude diagrams constructed from Hubble Space Telescope imaging. These are the first SFHs obtained from the oldest main-sequence turnoff of UFDs outside the halo of the Milky Way (MW). We find that five UFDs formed at least 50% of their stellar mass byz= 5 (12.6 Gyr ago), similar to known UFDs around the MW, but that 10%–40% of their stellar mass formed at later times. We uncover one remarkable UFD, Andxiii, which formed only 10% of its stellar mass byz= 5, and 75% in a rapid burst atz∼ 2–3, a result that is robust to choices of underlying stellar model and is consistent with its predominantly red horizontal branch. This “young” UFD is the first of its kind and indicates that not all UFDs are necessarily quenched by reionization, which is consistent with predictions from several cosmological simulations of faint dwarf galaxies. SFHs of the combined MW and M31 samples suggest reionization did not homogeneously quench UFDs. We find that the least-massive MW UFDs (M*(z= 5) ≲ 5 × 104M) are likely quenched by reionization, whereas more-massive M31 UFDs (M*(z= 5) ≳ 105M) may only have their star formation suppressed by reionization and quench at a later time. We discuss these findings in the context of the evolution and quenching of UFDs.

     
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 1, 2024
  8. Abstract

    Early data from the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) have revealed a bevy of high-redshift galaxy candidates with unexpectedly high stellar masses. An immediate concern is the consistency of these candidates with galaxy formation in the standardΛCDM cosmological model, wherein the stellar mass (M) of a galaxy is limited by the available baryonic reservoir of its host dark matter halo. The mass function of dark matter haloes therefore imposes an absolute upper limit on the number densityn(>M, z) and stellar mass densityρ(>M, z) of galaxies more massive thanMat any epochz. Here I show that the most massive galaxy candidates in JWST observations atz ≈ 7–10 lie at the very edge of these limits, indicating an important unresolved issue with the properties of galaxies derived from the observations, how galaxies form at early times inΛCDM or within this standard cosmology itself.

     
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  9. ABSTRACT

    As they grow, galaxies can transition from irregular/spheroidal with ‘bursty’ star formation histories (SFHs), to discy with smooth SFHs. But even in simulations, the direct physical cause of such transitions remains unclear. We therefore explore this in a large suite of numerical experiments re-running portions of cosmological simulations with widely varied physics, further validated with existing FIRE simulations. We show that gas supply, cooling/thermodynamics, star formation model, Toomre scale, galaxy dynamical times, and feedback properties do not have a direct causal effect on these transitions. Rather, both the formation of discs and cessation of bursty star formation are driven by the gravitational potential, but in different ways. Disc formation is promoted when the mass profile becomes sufficiently centrally concentrated in shape (relative to circularization radii): we show that this provides a well-defined dynamical centre, ceases to support the global ‘breathing modes’ that can persist indefinitely in less-concentrated profiles and efficiently destroy discs, promotes orbit mixing to form a coherent angular momentum, and stabilizes the disc. Smooth SF is promoted by the potential or escape velocity Vesc (not circular velocity Vc) becoming sufficiently large at the radii of star formation that cool, mass-loaded (momentum-conserving) outflows are trapped/confined near the galaxy, as opposed to escaping after bursts. We discuss the detailed physics, how these conditions arise in cosmological contexts, their relation to other correlated phenomena (e.g. inner halo virialization, vertical disc ‘settling’), and observations.

     
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  10. ABSTRACT

    We investigate the formation of Milky Way–mass galaxies using FIRE-2 ΛCDM cosmological zoom-in simulations by studying the orbital evolution of stars formed in the main progenitor of the galaxy, from birth to the present day. We classify in situ stars as isotropic spheroid, thick-disc, and thin-disc according to their orbital circularities and show that these components are assembled in a time-ordered sequence from early to late times, respectively. All simulated galaxies experience an early phase of bursty star formation that transitions to a late-time steady phase. This transition coincides with the time that the inner CGM virializes. During the early bursty phase, galaxies have irregular morphologies and new stars are born on radial orbits; these stars evolve into an isotropic spheroidal population today. The bulk of thick-disc stars form at intermediate times, during a clumpy-disc ‘spin-up’ phase, slightly later than the peak of spheroid formation. At late times, once the CGM virializes and star formation ‘cools down,’ stars are born on circular orbits within a narrow plane. Those stars mostly inhabit thin discs today. Broadly speaking, stars with disc-like or spheroid-like orbits today were born that way. Mergers on to discs and secular processes do affect kinematics in our simulations, but play only secondary roles in populating thick-disc and in situ spheroid populations at z = 0. The age distributions of spheroid, thick disc, and thin disc populations scale self-similarly with the steady-phase transition time, which suggests that morphological age dating can be linked to the CGM virialization time in galaxies.

     
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