Bar-driven evolution and quenching of spiral galaxies in cosmological simulations
Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UC Santa Cruz

UC Santa Cruz Previously Published Works bannerUC Santa Cruz

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


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]

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View