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Young and turbulent: the early life of massive galaxy progenitors

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Fiacconi, D 
Mayer, L 
Madau, P 
Lupi, A 
Dotti, M 


We present results from the ‘Ponos’ simulation suite on the early evolution of a massive, Mvir(z = 0) = 1.2 × 1013 M galaxy. At z 6, before feedback from a central supermassive black hole becomes dominant, the main galaxy has a stellar mass ~2 × 109 M and a star formation rate ~20 M yr−1. The galaxy sits near the expected main sequence of star-forming galaxies at those redshifts, and resembles moderately star-forming systems observed at z > 5. The high specific star formation rate results in vigorous heating and stirring of the gas by supernovae feedback, and the galaxy develops a thick and turbulent disc, with gas velocity dispersion ~40 km s−1, rotation to dispersion ratio ~2, and with a significant amount of gas at ~105 K. The Toomre parameter always exceeds the critical value for gravito-turbulence, Q ~ 1.5–2, mainly due to the contribution of warm/hot gas inside the disc. Without feedback, a nearly gravito-turbulent regime establishes with similar gas velocity dispersion and lower Q. We propose that the ‘hot and turbulent’ disc regime seen in our simulations, unlike the ‘cold and turbulent’ gravito-turbulent regime of massive clumpy disc galaxies at z ~ 1–2, is a fundamental characterization of the main-sequence galaxies at z 6, as they can sustain star formation rates comparable to those of low-mass starbursts at z = 0. This results in no sustained coherent gas inflows through the disc, and in fluctuating and anisotropic mass transport, possibly postponing the assembly of the bulge and causing the initial feeding of the central black hole to be highly intermittent.



turbulence, methods: numerical, galaxies: formation, galaxies: high-redshift, galaxies: ISM

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Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

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Oxford University Press
European Research Council (638707)
DF is supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation under grant #No. 200021_140645. DF also acknowledges support by European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant 638707 ‘Black holes and their host galaxies: coevolution across cosmic time’. Support for this work was provided to PM by the National Science Foundation (NSF) through grant AST-1229745, and by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) through grant NNX12AF87G. PM also acknowledges a NASA contract supporting the WFIRSTEXPO Science Investigation Team (15-WFIRST15-0004), administered by Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), and thanks the Prefecture of the Ile-de-France Region for the award of a Blaise ´ Pascal International Research Chair, managed by the Fondation de l’Ecole Normale Superieure.