Bulge formation via mergers in cosmological simulations

Alyson Brooks, Charlotte Christensen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

26 Scopus citations


The latest generation of cosmological simulations are on the verge of being able to resolve the structure of bulges for the first time. Hence, we review the current state of bulge formation in cosmological simulations, and discuss open questions that can be addressed in the near future by simulators, with a particular focus on merger-driven bulge growth. Galaxy mergers have long been assumed to produce classical bulges in disc galaxies. Under this bulge-formationmodel, though, the high rates of mergers in Cold Dark Matter (CDM) galaxy formation theory predict many more classical bulges than are observed. Furthermore, simulations of galaxy formation continue to generally produce too massive of bulges. Feedback offers a promising avenue for reducing merger-driven bulge growth by maintaining high gas fractions in galaxies and ejecting low-angular momentum gas driven to the centers of galaxies. After reviewing the results of relevant research that has been published to date, we use cosmological simulations to explore the ability of feedback to reduce or even prevent bulge growth during mergers. In dwarf galaxies, mergers actually reduce the central concentration of galaxies as the induced burst of star formation drives out low-angular momentum material. This result shows the potential for feedback to reduce central mass growth. However, we also demonstrate that it is very difficult for current stellar feedback models to reproduce the small bulges observed in more massive disc galaxies like the Milky Way. We argue that feedback models need to be improved, or an additional source of feedback such as AGN is necessary to generate the required outflows.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationGalactic Bulges
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages37
ISBN (Electronic)9783319193786
ISBN (Print)9783319193779
StatePublished - Oct 25 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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