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The environmental dependence of gas accretion onto galaxies : quenching satellites through starvation.

van de Voort, F. and Bahé, Y.M. and Bower, R.G. and Correa, C.A. and Crain, R.A. and Schaye, J. and Theuns, T. (2017) 'The environmental dependence of gas accretion onto galaxies : quenching satellites through starvation.', Monthly notices of the Royal Astronomical Society., 466 (3). pp. 3460-3471.


Galaxies that have fallen into massive haloes may no longer be able to accrete gas from their surroundings: a process referred to as ‘starvation’ or ‘strangulation’ of satellites. We study the environmental dependence of gas accretion on to galaxies using the cosmological, hydrodynamical EAGLE simulation. We quantify the dependence of gas accretion on stellar mass, redshift, and environment, using halo mass and galaxy overdensity as environmental indicators. We find a strong suppression, of many orders of magnitude, of the gas accretion rate in dense environments, primarily for satellite galaxies. This suppression becomes stronger at lower redshift. However, the scatter in accretion rates is very large for satellites. This is (at least in part) due to the variation in the halocentric radius, since gas accretion is more suppressed at smaller radii. Central galaxies are influenced less strongly by their environment and exhibit less scatter in their gas accretion rates. The star formation rates of both centrals and satellites show similar behaviour to their gas accretion rates. The relatively small differences between gas accretion and star formation rates demonstrate that galaxies generally exhaust their gas reservoir somewhat faster at higher stellar mass, lower redshift, and in denser environments. We conclude that the environmental suppression of gas accretion could directly result in the quenching of star formation.

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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:21 December 2016
Date deposited:02 March 2017
Date of first online publication:23 December 2016
Date first made open access:02 March 2017

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