Journal Article

Puffing up early-type galaxies by baryonic mass loss: numerical experiments

Cinthia Ragone-Figueroa and Gian Luigi Granato

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 414, issue 4, pages 3690-3698
Published in print July 2011 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online July 2011 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2966.2011.18670.x
Puffing up early-type galaxies by baryonic mass loss: numerical experiments

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Observations performed in the last few years indicate that most massive early-type galaxies (ETGs) observed at redshift z≳ 1 exhibit sizes smaller by a factor of a few than local ETGs of analogous stellar mass. We present numerical simulations of the effect of baryonic mass loss on the structure of a spheroidal stellar system, embedded in a dark matter halo. This process, invoked as a possible explanation of the observed size increase of ETGs since z∼ 2, could be caused either by quasi-stellar object/starburst driven galactic winds, promptly ejecting from ETGs the residual gas and halting star formation (galactic winds), or by stellar mass returned to the interstellar medium in the final stages of stellar evolution. Indeed, we find that a conceivable loss of ∼50 per cent of the baryonic mass can produce a significant size increase. However, the puffing up due to galactic winds occurs when the stellar populations are much younger than the estimated ages ≳0.5 Gyr of compact high-z ETGs. Therefore, while it may have had a role in deciding the final structure of ETGs, it cannot explain the evolution observed so far of their size–mass relation; its signature should be searched for in much younger systems. Conversely, the mass loss due to stellar evolution could cause a relatively modest expansion of passively evolving stellar systems later on, contributing to, without dominating, the observed evolution of their mass–size relationship.

Keywords: methods: numerical; galaxies: elliptical and lenticular, cD; galaxies: evolution; galaxies: formation; quasars: general

Journal Article.  6391 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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