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Durham University

Department of Physics

Staff profile

Publication details for Prof Richard Bower

Bower, R. G. , Benson, A. J. Malbon, R. K. , Helly, J. C. , Frenk, C. S. , Baugh, C. M. , Cole, S. & Lacey, C. G. (2006). Breaking the hierarchy of galaxy formation. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 370(2): 645-655.

Author(s) from Durham

Abstract

Recent observations of the distant Universe suggest that much of the stellar mass of bright galaxies was already in place at z> 1. This presents a challenge for models of galaxy formation because massive haloes are assembled late in the hierarchical clustering process intrinsic to the cold dark matter (CDM) cosmology. In this paper, we discuss a new implementation of the Durham semi-analytic model of galaxy formation in which feedback due to active galactic nuclei (AGN) is assumed to quench cooling flows in massive haloes. This mechanism naturally creates a break in the local galaxy luminosity function at bright magnitudes. The model is implemented within the Millennium N-body simulation. The accurate dark matter merger trees and large number of realizations of the galaxy formation process enabled by this simulation result in highly accurate statistics. After adjusting the values of the physical parameters in the model by reference to the properties of the local galaxy population, we investigate the evolution of the K-band luminosity and galaxy stellar mass functions. We calculate the volume-averaged star formation rate density of the Universe as a function of redshift and the way in which this is apportioned amongst galaxies of different mass. The model robustly predicts a substantial population of massive galaxies out to redshift z 5 and a star formation rate density which rises at least out to z 2 in objects of all masses. Although observational data on these properties have been cited as evidence for 'antihierarchical' galaxy formation, we find that when AGN feedback is taken into account, the fundamentally hierarchical CDM model provides a very good match to these observations.