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The quenching of star formation in galaxies

Gutcke, Thales Nion Ada

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Abstract

This thesis is concerned with investigating what makes star formation inefficient in galaxies. Cosmological, hydrodynamical simulations of galaxy formation show that the energy produced in stars, supernova explosions and active galactic nuclei must couple back into a galaxy’s interstellar medium to prevent excess star formation. However, the physical processes at work in this feedback loop are not well understood. This thesis unravels the details of the baryon cycle to constrain the strength of feedback. The first part explores a phenomenological model of star formation quenching in massive galaxies, showing that gas starvation is a viable pathway to realistic elliptical galaxies. In the second part, a state-of-the-art implementation of stellar feedback is put to the test by comparing the chemical composition of the circum-galactic medium with the latest observations. The simulations exhibit a deficiency in highly ionized oxygen, indicating that models of thermally coupled feedback may be insufficient. The last part delves into the star formation prescription itself, since this directly affects the resulting stellar feedback cycle. An empirical model of a metallicity-dependent stellar initial mass function reveals the significant uncertainty resulting from the common assumption of its universality. Thus, this analysis links star formation processes with stellar feedback and shows how they affect the baryon cycle of entire galaxy ecosystems.

Item Type: Dissertation
Supervisor: Macciò, Prof. Dr. Andrea
Place of Publication: Heidelberg
Date of thesis defense: 2 May 2018
Date Deposited: 14 May 2018 09:51
Date: 2018
Faculties / Institutes: The Faculty of Physics and Astronomy > Dekanat der Fakultät für Physik und Astronomie
Subjects: 000 Generalities, Science
520 Astronomy and allied sciences
530 Physics
Controlled Keywords: Galaxie, Sternentstehung, Computersimulation, Hydrodynamik, Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamics
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