The effect of models of the interstellar media on the central mass distribution of galaxies Academic Article uri icon

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  • We compare the central mass distribution of galaxies simulated with three different models of the interstellar medium (ISM) with increasing complexity: primordial (H+He) cooling down to 10^4K, additional cooling via metal lines and to lower temperatures, and molecular hydrogen (H_2) with shielding of atomic and molecular hydrogen, in addition to metal line cooling. In order to analyze the effect of these models, we follow the evolution of four field galaxies with V_peak < 120 km/s to a redshift of zero using high-resolution Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamic simulations in a fully cosmological LCDM context. The spiral galaxies produced in simulations with either primordial cooling or H_2 physics have realistic, rising rotation curves. In contrast, the simulations with metal line cooling and otherwise similar feedback and star formation produced galaxies with the peaked rotation curves typical of most previous LCDM simulations of spiral galaxies. The less-massive bulges and non-peaked rotation curves in the galaxies simulated with primordial cooling or H_2 are linked to changes in the angular momentum distribution of the baryons. These galaxies had smaller amounts of low-angular momentum baryons because of increased gas loss from stellar feedback. When there is only primordial cooling, the star forming gas is hotter and the feedback-heated gas cools more slowly than when metal line cooling is included and so requires less energy to be expelled. When H_2 is included, the accompanying shielding produces large amounts of clumpy, cold gas where H_2 forms. Star formation in clumpy gas results in more concentrated supernova feedback and greater efficiency of mass loss. The higher feedback efficiency causes a decrease of low-angular momentum material. (abridged)


  • Christensen, CR
  • Governato, F
  • Quinn, T
  • Brooks, AM
  • Shen, S
  • McCleary, J
  • Fisher, DB
  • Wadsley, James

publication date

  • April 12, 2014