Evolution of galaxy morphology

Evolution of galaxy morphology

I am currently working on quantifying the detailed morphological evolution of FIRE galaxies over time.

My thesis research has focused on the connection between bursty star formation and galactic morphology in the FIRE simulations. Through this research I have developed a novel picture of the connection between the stability of galactic disks and the burstiness of star formation and identified a new out-of-equilibrium phase of galaxy growth I call the firework phase. In this phase, the galaxy is compact, spheroidal, dispersion dominated, and its total kinetic + thermal energy is up to a factor of 10x larger than the gravitational binding energy. In addition to the existence of the firework phase, I also identified a rapid (1-2 Gyr) transition phase between the firework and thin disk phases which I call the proto-disk phase. In this phase, the galaxy has a net rotation oscillates around equilibrium, and disrupts itself through its own stellar feedback.

I call this novel three phase perspective the rapid disk settling picture. Initial results from JWST have suggested that disks settled very early in the universe and the rapid disk settling picture may be required to explain where and how we expect galactic disks to form. Additionally, recent studies of galactic archaeology in the Milky Way enabled by Gaia DR3 are consistent with the three phase picture, and the rapidity of the transitions between those phases, with important differences that may prove to be important constraints on galaxy formation models.

© Alex Gurvich, 2022. All rights reserved.

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