Galaxy Mergers and Dark Matter Halo Mergers in LCDM: Mass, Redshift, and Mass-Ratio Dependence

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We employ a high-resolution LCDM N-body simulation to present merger rate predictions for dark matter halos and investigate how common merger-related observables for galaxies - such as close pair counts, starburst counts, and the morphologically disturbed fraction - likely scale with luminosity, stellar mass, merger mass ratio, and redshift from z = 0 to z = 4. We provide a simple 'universal' fitting formula that describes our derived merger rates for dark matter halos a function of dark halo mass, merger mass ratio, and redshift, and go on to predict galaxy merger rates using number density-matching to associate halos with ... continued below

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11 pages

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Stewart, Kyle R.; Bullock, James S.; Barton, Elizabeth J.; /UC, Irvine; Wechsler, Risa H. & /KIPAC, Menlo Park /SLAC August 3, 2009.

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We employ a high-resolution LCDM N-body simulation to present merger rate predictions for dark matter halos and investigate how common merger-related observables for galaxies - such as close pair counts, starburst counts, and the morphologically disturbed fraction - likely scale with luminosity, stellar mass, merger mass ratio, and redshift from z = 0 to z = 4. We provide a simple 'universal' fitting formula that describes our derived merger rates for dark matter halos a function of dark halo mass, merger mass ratio, and redshift, and go on to predict galaxy merger rates using number density-matching to associate halos with galaxies. For example, we find that the instantaneous merger rate of m/M > 0.3 mass ratio events into typical L {approx}> fL{sub *} galaxies follows the simple relation dN/dt {approx_equal} 0.03(1+f)Gyr{sup -1} (1+z){sup 2.1}. Despite the rapid increase in merger rate with redshift, only a small fraction of > 0.4L{sub *} high-redshift galaxies ({approx} 3% at z = 2) should have experienced a major merger (m/M > 0.3) in the very recent past (t < 100 Myr). This suggests that short-lived, merger-induced bursts of star formation should not contribute significantly to the global star formation rate at early times, in agreement with observational indications. In contrast, a fairly high fraction ({approx} 20%) of those z = 2 galaxies should have experienced a morphologically transformative merger within a virial dynamical time. We compare our results to observational merger rate estimates from both morphological indicators and pair-fraction based determinations between z = 0-2 and show that they are consistent with our predictions. However, we emphasize that great care must be made in these comparisons because the predicted observables depend very sensitively on galaxy luminosity, redshift, overall mass ratio, and uncertain relaxation timescales for merger remnants. We show that the majority of bright galaxies at z = 3 should have undergone a major merger (> 0.3) in the last 700 Myr and conclude that mergers almost certainly play an important role in delivering baryons and influencing the kinematic properties of Lyman Break Galaxies (LBGs).

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11 pages

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  • Journal Name: Astrophys.J.702:1005-1015,2009

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  • Report No.: SLAC-PUB-13716
  • Grant Number: AC02-76SF00515
  • DOI: 10.1088/0004-637X/702/2/1005 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 962102
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc929396

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  • August 3, 2009

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  • Nov. 13, 2016, 7:26 p.m.

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  • Dec. 15, 2016, 3:27 p.m.

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Stewart, Kyle R.; Bullock, James S.; Barton, Elizabeth J.; /UC, Irvine; Wechsler, Risa H. & /KIPAC, Menlo Park /SLAC. Galaxy Mergers and Dark Matter Halo Mergers in LCDM: Mass, Redshift, and Mass-Ratio Dependence, article, August 3, 2009; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc929396/: accessed August 22, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.