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The metal enrichment of passive galaxies in cosmological simulations of galaxy formation.

Okamoto, T. and Nagashima, M. and Lacey, C.G. and Frenk, C.S. (2017) 'The metal enrichment of passive galaxies in cosmological simulations of galaxy formation.', Monthly notices of the Royal Astronomical Society., 464 (4). pp. 4866-4874.


Massive early-type galaxies have higher metallicities and higher ratios of α elements to iron than their less massive counterparts. Reproducing these correlations has long been a problem for hierarchical galaxy formation theory, both in semi-analytic models and cosmological hydrodynamic simulations. We show that a simulation in which gas cooling in massive dark haloes is quenched by radio-mode active galactic nuclei (AGNs) feedback naturally reproduces the observed trend between α/Fe and the velocity dispersion of galaxies, σ. The quenching occurs earlier for more massive galaxies. Consequently, these galaxies complete their star formation before α/Fe is diluted by the contribution from Type Ia supernovae. For galaxies more massive than ∼1011 M⊙, whose α/Fe correlates positively with stellar mass, we find an inversely correlated mass–metallicity relation. This is a common problem in simulations in which star formation in massive galaxies is quenched either by quasar- or radio-mode AGN feedback. The early suppression of gas cooling in progenitors of massive galaxies prevents them from recapturing enriched gas ejected as winds. Simultaneously reproducing the [α/Fe]–σ relation and the mass–metallicity relation is, thus, difficult in the current framework of galaxy formation.

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Publisher statement:This article has been accepted for publication in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society ©: 2017 The Authors. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.
Date accepted:20 October 2016
Date deposited:02 March 2017
Date of first online publication:23 October 2016
Date first made open access:02 March 2017

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