The formation of ultradiffuse galaxies in the RomulusC galaxy cluster simulation

M. Tremmel, A. C. Wright, A. M. Brooks, F. Munshi, D. Nagai, T. R. Quinn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


We study the origins of 122 ultradiffuse galaxies (UDGs) in the Romulus c zoom-in cosmological simulation of a galaxy cluster (M200 = 1.15 × 1014 M⊙), one of the only such simulations capable of resolving the evolution and structure of dwarf galaxies (M* < 109 M⊙). We find broad agreement with observed cluster UDGs and predict that they are not separate from the overall cluster dwarf population. UDGs in cluster environments form primarily from dwarf galaxies that experienced early cluster in-fall and subsequent quenching due to ram pressure. The ensuing dimming of these dwarf galaxies due to passive stellar evolution results in a population of very low surface brightness galaxies that are otherwise typical dwarfs. UDGs and non-UDGs alike are affected by tidal interactions with the cluster potential. Tidal stripping of dark matter, as well as mass-loss from stellar evolution, results in the adiabatic expansion of stars, particularly in the lowest mass dwarfs. High-mass dwarf galaxies show signatures of tidal heating while low-mass dwarfs that survive until z = 0 typically have not experienced such impulsive interactions. There is little difference between UDGs and non-UDGs in terms of their dark matter haloes, stellar morphology, colours, and location within the cluster. In most respects cluster UDG and non-UDGs alike are similar to isolated dwarf galaxies, except for the fact that they are typically quenched.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2786-2810
Number of pages25
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • galaxies: Clusters: General
  • galaxies: Dwarf
  • galaxies: Evolution


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