Bar-driven evolution and quenching of spiral galaxies in cosmological simulations
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Bar-driven evolution and quenching of spiral galaxies in cosmological simulations

  • Author(s): Spinoso, Daniele
  • Bonoli, Silvia
  • Dotti, Massimo
  • Mayer, Lucio
  • Madau, Piero
  • Bellovary, Jillian
  • et al.

We analyse the output of the hi-res cosmological zoom-in simulation ErisBH to study self-consistently the formation of a strong stellar bar in a Milky Way-type galaxy and its effect on the galactic structure, on the central gas distribution and on star formation. The simulation includes radiative cooling, star formation, SN feedback and a central massive black hole which is undergoing gas accretion and is heating the surroundings via thermal AGN feedback. A large central region in the ErisBH disk becomes bar-unstable after z~1.4, but a clear bar-like structure starts to grow significantly only after z~0.4, possibly triggered by the interaction with a massive satellite. At z~0.1 the bar reaches its maximum radial extent of l~2.2 kpc. As the bar grows, it becomes prone to buckling instability, which we quantify based on the anisotropy of the stellar velocity dispersion. The actual buckling event is observable at z~0.1, resulting in the formation of a boxy-peanut bulge clearly discernible in the edge-on view of the galaxy at z=0. The bar in ErisBH does not dissolve during the formation of the bulge but remains strongly non-axisymmetric down to the resolution limit of ~100 pc at z=0. During its early growth, the bar exerts a strong torque on the gas within its extent and drives gas inflows that enhance the nuclear star formation on sub-kpc scales. Later on the infalling gas is nearly all consumed into stars and, to a lesser extent, accreted onto the central black hole, leaving behind a gas-depleted region within the central ~2 kpc. Observations would more likely identify a prominent, large-scale bar at the stage when the galactic central region has already been quenched. Bar-driven quenching may play an important role in disk-dominated galaxies at all redshift. [Abridged]

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