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Durham University

Department of Physics

Staff profile

Publication details for Prof Carlos Frenk

Liao, Shihong, Gao, Liang, Frenk, Carlos S., Guo, Qi & Wang, Jie (2017). The segregation of baryons and dark matter during halo assembly. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 470(2): 2262-2269.

Author(s) from Durham


The standard galaxy formation theory assumes that baryons and dark matter are initially well mixed before becoming segregated due to radiative cooling. We use non-radiative hydrodynamical simulations to explicitly examine this assumption and find that baryons and dark matter can also be segregated due to different characteristics of gas and dark matter during the buildup of the halo. As a result, baryons in many haloes do not originate from the same Lagrangian region as the dark matter. When using the fraction of corresponding dark matter and gas particles in the initial conditions (the ‘paired fraction’) as a proxy of the dark matter and gas segregation strength of a halo, on average about 25 per cent of the baryonic and dark matter of the final halo are segregated in the initial conditions. This is at odds with the assumption of the standard galaxy formation model. A consequence of this effect is that the baryons and dark matter of the same halo initially experience different tidal torques and thus their angular momentum vectors are often misaligned. The degree of the misalignment is largely preserved during later halo assembly and can be understood with the tidal torque theory. The result challenges the precision of some semi-analytical approaches that utilize dark matter halo merger trees to infer properties of gas associated with dark matter haloes.