MaGICC thick disc - I. Comparing a simulated disc formed with stellar feedback to the milky way

G. S. Stinson, J. Bovy, H. W. Rix, C. Brook, R. Roškar, J. J. Dalcanton, A. V. Macciò, J. Wadsley, H. M.P. Couchman, T. R. Quinn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We analyse the structure and chemical enrichment of a Milky Way-like galaxy with a stellar mass of 2 × 1010M, formed in a cosmological hydrodynamical simulation. It is disc dominated with a flat rotation curve, and has a disc scalelength similar to the Milky Way's, but a velocity dispersion that is ~50 per cent higher. Examining stars in narrow [Fe/H] and [α/Fe] abundance ranges, we find remarkable qualitative agreement between this simulation and observations. (a) The old stars lie in a thickened distribution with a short scalelength, while the young stars form a thinner disc, with scalelengths decreasing, as [Fe/H] increases. (b) Consequently, there is a distinct outward metallicity gradient. (c) Mono-abundance populations exist with a continuous distribution of scaleheights (from thin to thick). However, the simulated galaxy has a distinct and substantive very thick disc (hz ~ 1.5 kpc), not seen in the Milky Way. The broad agreement between simulations and observations allows us to test the validity of observational proxies used in the literature: we find in the simulation that mono-abundance populations are good proxies for single age populations (<1Gyr) for most abundances.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)625-634
Number of pages10
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 2013


  • Galaxies: formation
  • Galaxies: structure
  • Hydrodynamics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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