The distribution of satellites around central galaxies in a cosmological hydrodynamical simulation

X. C. Dong, W. P. Lin, X. Kang, Yang Ocean Wang, Aaron A. Dutton, Andrea V. Macciò

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Observations have shown that the spatial distribution of satellite galaxies is not random, but rather is aligned with the major axes of central galaxies (CGs). The strength of the alignment is dependent on the properties of both the satellites and centrals. Theoretical studies using dissipationless N-body simulations are limited by their inability to directly predict the shape of CGs. Using hydrodynamical simulations including gas cooling, star formation, and feedback, we carry out a study of galaxy alignment and its dependence on the galaxy properties predicted directly from the simulations. We found that the observed alignment signal is well produced, as is the color dependence: red satellites and red centrals both show stronger alignments than their blue counterparts. The reason for the stronger alignment of red satellites is that most of them stay in the inner region of the dark matter halo where the shape of the CG better traces the dark matter distribution. The dependence of alignment on the color of CGs arises from the halo mass dependence, since the alignment between the shape of the central stellar component and the inner halo increases with halo mass. We also find that the alignment of satellites is most strongly dependent on their metallicity, suggesting that the metallicity of satellites, rather than color, is a better tracer of galaxy alignment on small scales. This could be tested in future observational studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL33
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 20 2014


  • dark matter
  • galaxies: formation
  • galaxies: halos
  • methods: numerical
  • methods: statistical

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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