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Using galaxy pairs to probe star formation during major halo mergers

Abstract : Currently-proposed galaxy quenching mechanisms predict very different behaviours during major halo mergers, ranging from significant quenching enhancement (e.g. clump-induced gravitational heating models) to significant star formation enhancement (e.g. gas starvation models). To test real galaxies' behaviour, we present an observational galaxy pair method for selecting galaxies whose host haloes are preferentially undergoing major mergers. Applying the method to central L* (1010 M < M* < 1010.5 M) galaxies in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey at z < 0.06, we find that major halo mergers can at most modestly reduce the star-forming fraction, from 59 to 47 per cent. Consistent with past research, however, mergers accompany enhanced specific star formation rates for star-forming L* centrals: ∼10 per cent when a paired galaxy is within 200 kpc (approximately the host halo's virial radius), climbing to ∼70 per cent when a paired galaxy is within 30 kpc. No evidence is seen for even extremely close pairs (<30 kpc separation) rejuvenating star formation in quenched galaxies. For galaxy formation models, our results suggest: (1) quenching in L* galaxies likely begins due to decoupling of the galaxy from existing hot and cold gas reservoirs, rather than a lack of available gas or gravitational heating from infalling clumps, (2) state-of-the-art semi-analytic models currently overpredict the effect of major halo mergers on quenching, and (3) major halo mergers can trigger enhanced star formation in non-quenched central galaxies.
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https://hal-insu.archives-ouvertes.fr/insu-03644914
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Submitted on : Thursday, April 28, 2022 - 8:18:42 AM
Last modification on : Thursday, May 12, 2022 - 6:22:03 PM

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Peter S. Behroozi, Guangtun Zhu, Henry C. Ferguson, Andrew P. Hearin, Jennifer Lotz, et al.. Using galaxy pairs to probe star formation during major halo mergers. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Oxford University Press (OUP): Policy P - Oxford Open Option A, 2015, 450, pp.1546-1564. ⟨10.1093/mnras/stv728⟩. ⟨insu-03644914⟩

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