Forming early-type galaxies without AGN feedback: A combination of merger-driven outflows and inefficient star formation

Michael Kretschmer, Romain Teyssier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Regulating the available gas mass inside galaxies proceeds through a delicate balance between inflows and outflows, but also through the internal depletion of gas due to star formation. At the same time, stellar feedback is the internal engine that powers the strong outflows. Since star formation and stellar feedback are both small-scale phenomena, we need a realistic and predictive subgrid model for both. We describe the implementation of supernova momentum feedback and star formation based on the turbulence of the gas in the RAMSES code. For star formation, we adopt the so-calledmultifreefallmodel. The resulting star formation efficiencies can be significantly smaller or bigger than the traditionally chosen value of 1 per cent. We apply these new numerical models to a prototype cosmological simulation of a massive halo that features a major merger which results in the formation of an early-type galaxy without using AGN feedback. We find that the feedback model provides the first-order mechanism for regulating the stellar and baryonic content in our simulated galaxy. At high redshift, the merger event pushes gas to large densities and large turbulent velocity dispersions, such that efficiencies come close to 10 per cent, resulting in large star formation rate (SFR). We find smallmolecular gas depletion time during the starburst, in perfect agreement with observations. Furthermore, at late times, the galaxy becomes quiescent with efficiencies significantly smaller than 1 per cent, resulting in small SFR and long molecular gas depletion time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1385-1398
Number of pages14
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Galaxies: evolution
  • Galaxies: formation
  • Galaxies: star formation
  • Methods: numerical
  • Stars: formation


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