Beyond Inside-Out Growth: Formation and Evolution of Disk Outskirts

Roškar, Rok, Debattista, Victor P. orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-7902-0116, Stinson, Gregory S., Quinn, Thomas R., Kaufmann, Tobias and Wadsley, James (2008) Beyond Inside-Out Growth: Formation and Evolution of Disk Outskirts. The Astrophysical Journal, 675 (2). L65-L68. ISSN 0004-637X

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We have performed a high mass and force resolution simulation of an idealized galaxy forming from dissipational collapse of gas embedded in a spherical dark matter halo. The simulation includes star formation and effects of stellar feedback. In our simulation a stellar disk forms with a surface density profile consisting of an inner exponential breaking to a steeper outer exponential. The break forms early on and persists throughout the evolution, moving outward as more gas is able to cool and add mass to the disk. The parameters of the break are in excellent agreement with observations. The break corresponds to a rapid drop in the star formation rate associated with a drop in the cooled gas surface density, but the outer exponential is populated by stars that were scattered outward on nearly circular orbits from the inner disk by spiral arms. The resulting profile and its associated break are therefore a consequence of the interplay between a radial star formation cutoff and redistribution of stellar mass by secular processes. A consequence of such evolution is a sharp change in the radial mean stellar age profile at the break radius.

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