The effect of models of the interstellar media on the central mass distribution of galaxies

C. R. Christensen, F. Governato, T. Quinn, A. M. Brooks, S. Shen, J. McCleary, D. B. Fisher, J. Wadsley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


We compared the central mass distribution of dwarf and spiral galaxies simulated with three different models of the interstellar medium with increasing complexity: primordial (H+He) cooling, additional cooling via metal lines, and molecular hydrogen ( H2) with shielding of atomic and molecular hydrogen, in addition to metal-line cooling. We followed the evolution of four high-resolution, simulated galaxies with Vpeak < 120 km s-1 to a redshift of zero in a fully cosmological Λ cold dark matter context. The spiral galaxies produced with either primordial cooling or H2 physics had realistic, rising rotation curves. However, the simulations with metal-line cooling produced spiral galaxies with peaked rotation curves. These differences represent changes to the amount of low-angular-momentum baryons removed by stellar feedback. When there was only primordial cooling, the star-forming gas was hotter and the feedback-heated gas cooled relatively slowly so less energy was required to expel it. When H2 was included, the accompanying shielding produced large amounts of clumpy, cold gas, and the supernova feedback was more highly concentrated. In contrast to the spiral galaxies, the dwarfs had similarly realistic concentrations and displayed similar behaviour across all models because their low metallicities resulted in smaller differences is the behaviour of the gas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2843-2859
Number of pages17
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Galaxies: ISM
  • Galaxies: formation
  • Galaxies: structure
  • ISM: general
  • Methods: numerical
  • Stars: formation


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