Center for Theoretical Physics of the Universe (CTPU)

The story of ultra-diffuse galaxies in the Auriga simulations

by Dr Liao Shihong (University of Helsinki)

On-line seminar

On-line seminar

Ultra-diffuse galaxies (UDGs) are a large sample of mysterious low surface brightness galaxies whose sizes are as large as L* galaxies while whose luminosities are as faint as dwarf galaxies. Their formation mechanism is still a puzzle, and solving this puzzle will deepen our understanding in our cosmological model and galaxy formation model. In this talk, I will discuss the formation of UDGs using the Auriga high-resolution cosmological magnetohydrodynamical simulations of Milky Way-sized galaxies. We identify a sample of 92 UDGs in the simulations that match a wide range of observables such as sizes, central surface brightness, Sérsic indices, colours, spatial distribution, and abundance. Auriga UDGs have dynamical masses similar to normal dwarfs. In the field, the key to their origin is a strong correlation present in low-mass dark matter haloes between galaxy size and halo spin parameter. Field UDGs form in dark matter haloes with larger spins compared to normal dwarfs in the field, in agreement with previous semi-analytical models. Satellite UDGs, on the other hand, have two different origins: ~55 per cent of them formed as field UDGs before they were accreted; the remaining ~45 per cent were normal field dwarfs that subsequently turned into UDGs as a result of tidal interactions.