Journal Article

How is star formation quenched in massive galaxies?

J. M. Gabor, R. Davé, K. Finlator and B. D. Oppenheimer

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 407, issue 2, pages 749-771
Published in print September 2010 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online September 2010 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
How is star formation quenched in massive galaxies?

More Like This

Show all results sharing this subject:

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics


Show Summary Details


The bimodality in observed present-day galaxy colours has long been a challenge for hierarchical galaxy formation models, as it requires some physical process to quench (and keep quenched) star formation in massive galaxies. Here, we examine phenomenological models of quenching by post-processing the star formation histories of galaxies from cosmological hydrodynamic simulations that reproduce observations of star-forming galaxies reasonably well. We consider recipes for quenching based on major mergers, halo mass thresholds, gas temperature thresholds and variants thereof. We compare the resulting simulated star formation histories to observed gr colour–magnitude diagrams and red and blue luminosity functions from SDSS. The merger and halo mass quenching scenarios each yield a distinct red sequence and blue cloud of galaxies that are in broad agreement with data, albeit only under rather extreme assumptions. In detail, however, the simulated red sequence slope and amplitude in both scenarios are somewhat discrepant, perhaps traceable to low metallicities in simulated galaxies. Merger quenching produces more massive blue galaxies, earlier quenching and more frosting of young stars; comparing to relevant data tends to favour merger over halo mass quenching. Although physically motivated quenching models can produce a red sequence, interesting generic discrepancies remain that indicate that additional physics is required to reproduce the star formation and enrichment histories of red and dead galaxies.

Keywords: galaxies: evolution; galaxies: haloes; galaxies: interactions; galaxies: luminosity function, mass function

Journal Article.  20351 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.