The Dual Origin of Stellar Halos

Type Journal Article
Names Adi Zolotov, Beth Willman, Alyson M. Brooks, Fabio Governato, Chris B. Brook, David W. Hogg, Tom Quinn, Greg Stinson
Publication The Astrophysical Journal
Volume 702
Issue 2
Pages 1058-1067
Date September 1, 2009
Library Catalog NASA ADS
Abstract We investigate the formation of the stellar halos of four simulated disk galaxies using high-resolution, cosmological SPH + N-body simulations. These simulations include a self-consistent treatment of all the major physical processes involved in galaxy formation. The simulated galaxies presented here each have a total mass of ~1012 M sun, but span a range of merger histories. These simulations allow us to study the competing importance of in situ star formation (stars formed in the primary galaxy) and accretion of stars from subhalos in the building of stellar halos in a ΛCDM universe. All four simulated galaxies are surrounded by a stellar halo, whose inner regions (r < 20 kpc) contain both accreted stars, and an in situ stellar population. The outer regions of the galaxies' halos were assembled through pure accretion and disruption of satellites. Most of the in situ halo stars formed at high redshift out of smoothly accreted cold gas in the inner 1 kpc of the galaxies' potential wells, possibly as part of their primordial disks. These stars were displaced from their central locations into the halos through a succession of major mergers. We find that the two galaxies with recently quiescent merger histories have a higher fraction of in situ stars (~20%-50%) in their inner halos than the two galaxies with many recent mergers (~5%-10% in situ fraction). Observational studies concentrating on stellar populations in the inner halo of the Milky Way will be the most affected by the presence of in situ stars with halo kinematics, as we find that their existence in the inner few tens of kpc is a generic feature of galaxy formation.
Tags Galaxies: Halos, Galaxy: Formation, Galaxy: halo, galaxies: formation, methods: N-body simulations
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