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Simulating the interaction of galaxies and the intergalactic medium

Grain, Robert Andrew (2008) Simulating the interaction of galaxies and the intergalactic medium. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Abstract

The co-evolution of galaxies and the intergalactic medium as a function of environment is studied using hydrodynamic simulations of the ACDM cosmogony. It is demonstrated with non-radiative calculations that, in the absence of non-gravitational mechanisms, dark matter haloes accrete a near-universal fraction (~ 0.9Ω(_b)/ Ω (_m))of baryons. The absence of a mass or redshift dependence of this fraction augurs well for parameter tests that use X-ray clusters as cosmological probes. Moreover, this result indicates that non- gravitational processes must efficiently regulate the formation of stars in dark matter haloes if the halo mass function is to be reconciled with the observed galaxy luminosity function. Simulations featuring stellar evolution and non-gravitational feedback mechanisms (photo-heating by the ultraviolet background, and thermal and kinetic supemovae feedback) are used to follow the evolution of star formation, and the thermo- and chemo- dynamical evolution of baryons. The observed star formation history of the Universe is reproduced, except at low redshift where it is overestimated by a factor of a few, possibly indicating the need for feedback from active galactic nuclei to quench cooling flows around massive galaxies. The simulations more accurately reproduce the observed abundance of galaxies with late-type morphologies than has been reported elsewhere. The unique initial conditions of these simulations, based on the Millennium Simulation, allow an unprecedented study of the role of large-scale environment to be conducted. The cosmic star formation rate density is found to vary by an order of magnitude across the extremes of environment expected in the local Universe. The mass fraction of baryons in the observationally elusive warm-hot intergalactic medium (WHIM), and the volume filling factor that this gas occupies, is also shown to vary by a factor of a few across such environments. This variation is attributed to differences in the halo mass functions of the environments. Finally, we compare the X-ray properties of haloes from the simulations with the predictions of the White and Frenk (1991) analytic galaxy formation model, and demonstrate that deviations from the analytic prediction arise from the assumptions i) that haloes retain their cosmic share of baryons, and ii) their gas follows an isothermal density profile. The simulations indicate that a significant fraction of gas is ejected from low mass haloes by galactic superwinds, leading to a significant increase in their cooling time profiles and an associated drop in their soft X-ray luminosities, relative to the analytic model. Simulated X-ray luminosities remain greater than present observational upper limits, but it is argued that the observations provide only weak constraints and may suffer from a systematic bias, such that the mass of the halo hosting a given galaxy is overestimated. This bias also follows from the assumption that haloes exhibit isothermal density profiles.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Date:2008
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:08 Sep 2011 18:28

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