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Research

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Publication details for Dr Wenting Wang

Lowing, B., Wang, W., Cooper, A, Kennedy, R., Helly, J., Cole, S. & Frenk, C. (2015). Creating mock catalogues of stellar haloes from cosmological simulations. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 446(3): 2274-2290.

Author(s) from Durham

Abstract

We present a new technique for creating mock catalogues of the individual stars that make up the accreted component of stellar haloes in cosmological simulations and show how the catalogues can be used to test and interpret observational data. The catalogues are constructed from a combination of methods. A semi-analytic galaxy formation model is used to calculate the star formation history in haloes in an N-body simulation and dark matter particles are tagged with this stellar mass. The tags are converted into individual stars using a stellar population synthesis model to obtain the number density and evolutionary stage of the stars, together with a phase-space sampling method that distributes the stars while ensuring that the phase-space structure of the original N-body simulation is maintained. A set of catalogues based on the Λ cold dark matter Aquarius simulations of Milky Way mass haloes have been created and made publicly available on a website. Two example applications are discussed that demonstrate the power and flexibility of the mock catalogues. We show how the rich stellar substructure that survives in the stellar halo precludes a simple measurement of its density profile and demonstrate explicitly how pencil-beam surveys can return almost any value for the slope of the profile. We also show that localized variations in the abundance of particular types of stars, a signature of differences in the composition of stellar populations, allow streams to be easily identified.