AbstractsAstronomy & Space Science

Simulating the dynamical evolution of galaxies in group and cluster environments

by Rukmani Vijayaraghavan

Institution: University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign
Year: 2015
Keywords: Galaxies; Galaxy Clusters; hydrodynamics; numerical simulations; dark matter; X-rays
Posted: 02/05/2017
Record ID: 2069007
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/87994


Galaxy clusters are harsh environments for their constituent galaxies. A variety of physical processes effective in these dense environments transform gas-rich, spiral, star-forming galaxies to elliptical or spheroidal galaxies with very little gas and therefore minimal star formation. The consequences of these processes are well understood observationally. Galaxies in progressively denser environments have systematically declining star formation rates and gas content. However, a theoretical understanding of of where, when, and how these processes act, and the interplay between the various galaxy transformation mechanisms in clusters remains elusive. In this dissertation, I use numerical simulations of cluster mergers as well as galaxies evolving in quiescent environments to develop a theoretical framework to understand some of the physics of galaxy transformation in cluster environments. Galaxies can be transformed in smaller groups before they are accreted by their eventual massive cluster environments, an effect termed `pre-processing'. Galaxy cluster mergers themselves can accelerate many galaxy transformation mechanisms, including tidal and ram pressure stripping of galaxies and galaxy-galaxy collisions and mergers that result in reassemblies of galaxies' stars and gas. Observationally, cluster mergers have distinct velocity and phase-space signatures depending on the observer's line of sight with respect to the merger direction. Using dark matter only as well as hydrodynamic simulations of cluster mergers with random ensembles of particles tagged with galaxy models, I quantify the effects of cluster mergers on galaxy evolution before, during, and after the mergers. Based on my theoretical predictions of the dynamical signatures of these mergers in combination with galaxy transformation signatures, one can observationally identify remnants of mergers and quantify the effect of the environment on galaxies in dense group and cluster environments. The presence of long-lived, hot X-ray emitting coronae observed in a large fraction of group and cluster galaxies is not well-understood. These coronae are not fully stripped by ram pressure and tidal forces that are efficient in these environments. Theoretically, this is a fascinating and challenging problem that involves understanding and simulating the multitude of physical processes in these dense environments that can remove or replenish galaxies' hot coronae. To solve this problem, I have developed and implemented a robust simulation technique where I simulate the evolution of a realistic cluster environment with a population of galaxies and their gas. With this technique, it is possible to isolate and quantify the importance of the various cluster physical processes for coronal survival. To date, I have performed hydrodynamic simulations of galaxies being ram pressure stripped in quiescent group and cluster environments. Using these simulations, I have characterized the physics of ram pressure stripping and investigated the survival of these coronae in the… Advisors/Committee Members: Ricker, Paul M. (advisor), Ricker, Paul M. (Committee Chair), Fields, Brian (committee member), Wong, Tony (committee member), Menanteau, Felipe (committee member), Vieira, Joaquin (committee member).