Properties of damped Ly α absorption systems and star-forming galaxies in semi-analytic models at z = 2

Michael Berry, Rachel S. Somerville, Eric Gawiser, Ariyeh H. Maller, Gergö Popping, Scott C. Trager

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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We investigate predictions from semi-analytic cosmological models of galaxy formation for the properties of star-forming galaxies (SFGs) and damped Ly a absorption systems (DLAS), and the relationship between these two populations. Our models reproduce fairly well the observed distributions of redshift, stellar mass, star formation rate (SFR), and dust extinction for z ~ 2 SFGs. We predict that DLA hosts span a broad range of properties, with broad and relatively flat distributions of stellar and halo mass, SFR, and luminosity. The photometric colours of DLA host galaxies trace the colours of galaxies with similar luminosities, but the majority are much fainter than the limits of most existing surveys of SFGs. Generally, DLA host galaxies and SFGs at z=2 follow similar trends between stellarmass, DLA cross-section, cold gas fraction, SFR, metallicity, and dust extinction as the global population of galaxies with the same stellar mass. Since DLAS select galaxies with larger cold gas masses, they tend to have larger cold gas fractions, lower metallicities, higher SFRs, and less dust extinction than galaxies at the same stellar mass. Our models reproduce the observed relations between impact parameter, column density, and metallicity, suggesting that the sizes of the gas discs giving rise to DLAS in our models are roughly correct.We find that molecular fractions and SFRs are in general significantly lower at the location of the DLA line of sight than the galaxy-averaged value.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)531-557
Number of pages27
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 22 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Galaxies: evolution
  • Galaxies: formation
  • Galaxies: high-redshift
  • Quasars: absorption lines

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