Forming a large disc galaxy from az< 1 major merger Academic Article uri icon

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  • Using high resolution SPH simulations in a fully cosmological Lambda CDM context we study the formation of a bright disk dominated galaxy that originates from a "wet" major merger at z=0.8. The progenitors of the disk galaxy are themselves disk galaxies that formed from early major mergers between galaxies with blue colors. A substantial thin stellar disk grows rapidly following the last major merger and the present day properties of the final remnant are typical of early type spiral galaxies, with an i band B/D ~0.65, a disk scale length of 7.2 kpc, g-r = 0.5 mag, an HI line width (W_{20}/2) of 238 km/sec and total magnitude i = -22.4. The key ingredients for the formation of a dominant stellar disk component after a major merger are: i) substantial and rapid accretion of gas through cold flows followed at late times by cooling of gas from the hot phase, ii) supernova feedback that is able to partially suppress star formation during mergers and iii) relative fading of the spheroidal component. The gas fraction of the progenitors' disks does not exceed 25% at z<3, emphasizing that the continuous supply of gas from the local environment plays a major role in the regrowth of disks and in keeping the galaxies blue. The results of this simulation alleviate the problem posed for the existence of disk galaxies by the high likelihood of interactions and mergers for galaxy sized halos at relatively low z.


  • Governato, F
  • Brook, CB
  • Brooks, AM
  • Mayer, L
  • Willman, B
  • Jonsson, P
  • Stilp, AM
  • Pope, L
  • Christensen, C
  • Wadsley, James
  • Quinn, T

publication date

  • September 1, 2009