Forming disc galaxies in ACDM simulations

F. Governato, B. Willman, L. Mayer, A. Brooks, G. Stinson, O. Valenzuela, J. Wadsley, T. Quinn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

465 Scopus citations


We used fully cosmological, high-resolution N-body + smooth particle hydrodynamic (SPH) simulations to follow the formation of disc galaxies with rotational velocities between 135 and 270 km s-1 in a A cold dark matter (CDM) universe. The simulations include gas cooling, star formation, the effects of a uniform ultraviolet (UV) background and a physically motivated description of feedback from supernovae (SNe). The host dark matter haloes have a spin and last major merger redshift typical of galaxy-sized haloes as measured in recent large-scale N-body simulations. The simulated galaxies form rotationally supported discs with realistic exponential scalelengths and fall on both the I band and baryonic Tully-Fisher relations. An extended stellar disc forms inside the Milky Way (MW)-sized halo immediately after the last major merger. The combination of UV background and SN feedback drastically reduces the number of visible satellites orbiting inside a MW-sized halo, bringing it in fair agreement with observations. Our simulations predict that the average age of a primary galaxy's stellar population decreases with mass, because feedback delays star formation in less massive galaxies. Galaxies have stellar masses and current star formation rates as a function of total mass that are in good agreement with observational data. We discuss how both high mass and force resolution and a realistic description of star formation and feedback are important ingredients to match the observed properties of galaxies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1479-1494
Number of pages16
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Galaxies: evolution
  • Galaxies: formation
  • Methods: N-body simulations

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