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Evolution of the mass, size, and star formation rate in high redshift merging galaxies

Abstract : Context. In Λ-CDM models, galaxies are thought to grow both through continuous cold gas accretion coming from the cosmic web and episodic merger events. The relative importance of these different mechanisms at different cosmic epochs is nevertheless not yet understood well.Aims. We aim to address questions related to galaxy mass assembly through major and minor wet merging processes in the redshift range 1 < z < 2, an epoch that corresponds to the peak of cosmic star formation history. A significant fraction of Milky Way-like galaxies are thought to have undergone an unstable clumpy phase at this early stage. We focus on the behavior of the young clumpy disks when galaxies are undergoing gas-rich galaxy mergers.Methods. Using the adaptive mesh-refinement code RAMSES, we build the Merging and Isolated high redshift Adaptive mesh refinement Galaxies (MIRAGE) sample. It is composed of 20 mergers and 3 isolated idealized disks simulations, which sample disk orientations and merger masses. Our simulations can reach a physical resolution of 7 parsecs, and include star formation, metal line cooling, metallicity advection, and a recent physically-motivated implementation of stellar feedback that encompasses OB-type stars radiative pressure, photo-ionization heating, and supernovae.Results. The star formation history of isolated disks shows a stochastic star formation rate, which proceeds from the complex behavior of the giant clumps. Our minor and major gas-rich merger simulations do not trigger starbursts, suggesting a saturation of the star formation due to the detailed accounting of stellar feedback processes in a turbulent and clumpy interstellar medium fed by substantial accretion from the circumgalactic medium. Our simulations are close to the normal regime of the disk-like star formation on a Schmidt-Kennicutt diagram. The mass–size relation and its rate of evolution in the redshift range 1 < z < 2 matches observations, suggesting that the inside-out growth mechanisms of the stellar disk do not necessarily require cold accretion.
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V. Perret, F. Renaud, B. Epinat, P. Amram, F. Bournaud, et al.. Evolution of the mass, size, and star formation rate in high redshift merging galaxies. Astronomy and Astrophysics - A&A, EDP Sciences, 2014, 562, pp.A1. ⟨10.1051/0004-6361/201322395⟩. ⟨cea-01162422⟩



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