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Department of Mathematical Sciences


Publication details

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

Author(s) from Durham


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