Numerical hydrodynamic simulations based on semi-analytic galaxy merger trees: Method and milky way-like galaxies

Benjamin P. Moster, Andrea V. Macciò, Rachel S. Somerville

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We present a new approach to study galaxy evolution in a cosmological context. We combine cosmological merger trees and semi-analytic models of galaxy formation to provide the initial conditions for multimerger hydrodynamic simulations. In this way, we exploit the advantages of merger simulations (high resolution and inclusion of the gas physics) and semi-analytic models (cosmological background and low computational cost), and integrate them to create a novel tool. This approach allows us to study the evolution of various galaxy properties, including the treatment of the hot gaseous halo from which gas cools and accretes on to the central disc, which has been neglected in many previous studies. This method shows several advantages over other methods. As only the particles in the regions of interest are included, the run time is much shorter than in traditional cosmological simulations, leading to greater computational efficiency. Using cosmological simulations, we show that multiple mergers are expected to be more common than sequences of isolated mergers, and therefore studies of galaxy mergers should take this into account. In this pilot study, we present our method and illustrate the results of simulating 10 Milky Way-like galaxies since z = 1. We find good agreement with observations for the total stellarmasses, star formation rates, cold gas fractions and disc scalelength parameters. We expect that this novel numerical approach will be very useful for pursuing a number of questions pertaining to the transformation of galaxy internal structure through cosmic time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1027-1044
Number of pages18
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 2013


  • Galaxies:Evolution
  • Galaxies:Interactions
  • Galaxy:Evolution
  • Methods:Numerical
  • galaxies:Structure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Numerical hydrodynamic simulations based on semi-analytic galaxy merger trees: Method and milky way-like galaxies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this