Damped Lyman α systems in galaxy formation simulations Academic Article uri icon

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  • We investigate the population of z=3 damped Lyman alpha absorbers (DLAs) in a recent series of high resolution galaxy formation simulations. The simulations are of interest because they form at z=0 some of the most realistic disk galaxies to date. No free parameters are available in our study: these have been fixed by physical and z=0 observational constraints, and thus our study provides a genuine consistency test. The precise role of DLAs in galaxy formation remains in debate, but they provide a number of strong constraints on the nature of our simulated bound systems at z=3 because of their coupled information on neutral H I densities, kinematics, metallicity and estimates of star formation activity. Our results, without any parameter-tuning, closely match the observed incidence rate and column density distributions of DLAs. Our simulations are the first to reproduce the distribution of metallicities (with a median of Z_{DLA} = Z_{solar}/20) without invoking observationally unsupported mechanisms such as dust biasing. This is especially encouraging given that these simulations have previously been shown to have a realistic 0


  • Pontzen, Andrew
  • Governato, Fabio
  • Pettini, Max
  • Booth, CM
  • Stinson, Greg
  • Wadsley, James
  • Brooks, Alyson
  • Quinn, Thomas
  • Haehnelt, Martin

publication date

  • October 2008