Journal Article

Gas cooling in semi-analytic models and smoothed particle hydrodynamics simulations: are results consistent?

A. Saro, G. De Lucia, S. Borgani and K. Dolag

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 406, issue 2, pages 729-743
Published in print August 2010 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online July 2010 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
Gas cooling in semi-analytic models and smoothed particle hydrodynamics simulations: are results consistent?

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We present a detailed comparison between the galaxy populations within a massive cluster, as predicted by hydrodynamical smoothed particle hydrodynamics (SPH) simulations and by a semi-analytic model (SAM) of galaxy formation. Both models include gas cooling and a simple prescription of star formation, which consists in transforming instantaneously any cold gas available into stars, while neglecting any source of energy feedback. This simplified comparison is thus not meant to be compared with observational data, but is aimed at understanding the level of agreement, at the stripped-down level considered, between two techniques that are widely used to model galaxy formation in a cosmological framework and which present complementary advantages and disadvantages. We find that, in general, galaxy populations from SAMs and SPH have similar statistical properties, in agreement with previous studies. However, when comparing galaxies on an object-by-object basis, we find a number of interesting differences: (i) the star formation histories of the brightest cluster galaxies (BCGs) from SAM and SPH models differ significantly, with the SPH BCG exhibiting a lower level of star formation activity at low redshift, and a more intense and shorter initial burst of star formation with respect to its SAM counterpart; (ii) while all stars associated with the BCG were formed in its progenitors in the SAM used here, this holds true only for half of the final BCG stellar mass in the SPH simulation, the remaining half being contributed by tidal stripping of stars from the diffuse stellar component associated with galaxies accreted on the cluster halo; (iii) SPH satellites can lose up to 90 per cent of their stellar mass at the time of accretion, due to tidal stripping, a process not included in the SAM used in this paper; (iv) in the SPH simulation, significant cooling occurs on the most massive satellite galaxies and this lasts for up to 1 Gyr after accretion. This physical process is not included in the SAM used in this paper, as well as in most of the models discussed in the recent literature. Our results identify specific directions of improvements for our methods to study galaxy formation in a hierarchical universe.

Keywords: hydrodynamics; methods: numerical; galaxies: clusters: general; galaxies: formation; cosmology: theory

Journal Article.  10994 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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