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Balance among gravitational instability, star formation and accretion determines the structure and evolution of disc galaxies
Forbes, John C.; Krumholz, Mark R.; Burkert, Andreas; Dekel, Avishai
AA(Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics, University of California, Santa Cruz, CA 95064, USA; ), AB(Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics, University of California, Santa Cruz, CA 95064, USA), AC(University Observatory Munich (USM), Scheinerstrasse 1, D-81679 Munich, Germany; Max-Planck-Institut fuer extraterrestrische Physik, Giessenbachstrasse 1, D-85758 Garching, Germany), AD(Racah Institute of Physics, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem 91904, Israel)
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 438, Issue 2, p.1552-1576 (MNRAS Homepage)
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Astronomy Keywords:
galaxies: evolution, galaxies: ISM, galaxies: kinematics and dynamics, galaxies: structure
Abstract Copyright:
2013 The Authors Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society
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Over the past 10 Gyr, star-forming galaxies have changed dramatically, from clumpy and gas rich, to rather quiescent stellar-dominated discs with specific star formation rates lower by factors of a few tens. We present a general theoretical model for how this transition occurs, and what physical processes drive it, making use of 1D axisymmetric thin disc simulations with an improved version of the Gravitational Instability-Dominated Galaxy Evolution Tool (GIDGET) code. We show that at every radius galaxies tend to be in a slowly evolving equilibrium state wherein new accretion is balanced by star formation, galactic winds and radial transport of gas through the disc by gravitational instability-driven torques. The gas surface density profile is determined by which of these terms are in balance at a given radius - direct accretion is balanced by star formation and galactic winds near galactic centres, and by transport at larger radii. We predict that galaxies undergo a smooth transition from a violent disc instability phase to secular evolution. This model provides a natural explanation for the high velocity dispersions and large clumps in z ˜ 2 galaxies, the growth and subsequent quenching of bulges, and features of the neutral gas profiles of local spiral galaxies.
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