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Constraints on galaxy formation models from the galaxy stellar mass function and its evolution.

Rodrigues, Luiz Felippe S. and Vernon, Ian and Bower, Richard G. (2017) 'Constraints on galaxy formation models from the galaxy stellar mass function and its evolution.', Monthly notices of the Royal Astronomical Society., 466 (2). pp. 2418-2435.


We explore the parameter space of the semi-analytic galaxy formation model GALFORM, studying the constraints imposed by measurements of the galaxy stellar mass function (GSMF) and its evolution. We use the Bayesian emulator method to quickly eliminate vast implausible volumes of the parameter space and zoom in on the most interesting regions, allowing us to identify a set of models that match the observational data within model uncertainties. We find that the GSMF strongly constrains parameters related to quiescent star formation in discs, stellar and active galactic nucleus feedback and threshold for disc instabilities, but weakly restricts other parameters. Constraining the model using local data alone does not usually select models that match the evolution of the GSMF well. Nevertheless, we show that a small subset of models provides acceptable match to GSMF data out to redshift 1.5. We explore the physical significance of the parameters of these models, in particular exploring whether the model provides a better description if the mass loading of the galactic winds generated by starbursts (β0,burst) and quiescent discs (β0,disc) is different. Performing a principal component analysis of the plausible volume of the parameter space, we write a set of relations between parameters obeyed by plausible models with respect to GSMF evolution. We find that while β0,disc is strongly constrained by GSMF evolution data, constraints on β0,burst are weak. Although it is possible to find plausible models for which β0,burst = β0,disc, most plausible models have β0,burst > β0,disc, implying – for these – larger stellar feedback efficiency at higher redshifts.

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Publisher statement:This article has been accepted for publication in Monthly notices of the Royal Astronomical Society © 2016 The Authors. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.
Date accepted:13 December 2016
Date deposited:10 October 2017
Date of first online publication:15 December 2016
Date first made open access:10 October 2017

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