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Tidally triggered galaxy formation. I - Evolution of the galaxy luminosity function

Lacey, Cedric; Silk, Joseph

Tidally triggered galaxy formation. I - Evolution of the galaxy luminosity function Thumbnail


Joseph Silk


Motivated by accumulating evidence that large-scale galactic star formation is initiated and sustained by tidal interactions, a phenomenological model is developed for the galaxy luminosity function, commencing from a galaxy mass function that is predicted by a hierarchical model of structure formation such as the cold dark matter dominated cosmology. The epoch of luminous galaxy formation and the galactic star-formation rate are determined by the environment. Gas cooling and star-formation feedback are incorporated; the present epoch luminosity function of bright galaxies and the distribution of galaxy colors are well reproduced. Biasing, via the preferential formation of luminous galaxies in denser regions associated with groups of clusters, is a natural outcome of this tidally triggered star-formation model. A large frequency is inferred of 'failed' galaxies, prematurely stripped by supernova-driven winds, that populate groups and clusters in the form of low surface brightness gas-poor dwarfs, and of 'retarded' galaxies, below the threshold for effective star formation, in the field, detectable as gas-rich, extremely low surface brightness objects. Predictions are presented for the evolution with redshift of the distribution of characteristic star formation timescales, galaxy ages, and colors. Estimates are also made of galaxy number counts, and it is suggested that dwarf galaxies undergoing bursts of star formation at z of about 1 may dominate the counts at the faintest magnitudes.


Lacey, C., & Silk, J. (1991). Tidally triggered galaxy formation. I - Evolution of the galaxy luminosity function. Astrophysical Journal, 381, 14-32.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Nov 1, 1991
Deposit Date Feb 16, 2015
Publicly Available Date Mar 20, 2015
Journal Astrophysical Journal
Print ISSN 0004-637X
Electronic ISSN 1538-4357
Publisher American Astronomical Society
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 381
Pages 14-32
Keywords Galactic evolution, Milky Way Galaxy, Star formation, Astronomical models, Astronomical photometry, Galactic radiation, Luminosity, Tides.


Published Journal Article (481 Kb)

Copyright Statement
© 1991. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.

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