Morphological Evolution of Galaxies

Hugo Martel, Premana Premadi, Richard Matzner
1998 Astrophysical Journal  
We simulate the growth of large-scale structure in the universe using a N-body code. By combining these simulations with a Monte-Carlo method, we generate galaxy distributions at present that reproduces the observed morphology-density relation, with most ellipticals concentrated in the densest regions. By "tying" each galaxy to its nearest particle, we trace the trajectory of that galaxy back in time. This enables us to reconstruct the distribution of galaxies at high redshift, and the
more » ... t, and the trajectory of each galaxy from its formation epoch to the present. Our goal is to determine whether the morphological type of galaxies is primarily determined by the initial conditions in which these galaxies form, or by evolutionary processes occurring later. We compare the environment in which galaxies are at the epoch of galaxy formation (z=3) and at the present. Making the null hypothesis that morphological types do not evolve, we compare the galaxies that form in low density environments but end up later in high density environments to the ones that form also in low density environment but remain in low density environment. The first group contains a larger proportion of E and S0 galaxies than the second group. We assume that the galaxy formation process cannot distinguish a low density environment that will always remain low density from one that will eventually become high density. Hence, these results force us to discard the null hypothesis of no morphological evolution. Our study suggests that 75% of the E and S0 galaxies observed at present formed as such, while the remaining 25% formed as spirals, and underwent morphological evolution. We conclude that most galaxies did not undergo morphological evolution, but a non-negligible fraction did.
doi:10.1086/305472 fatcat:wmlcqvoqzjfvtmucwyr3dabwlm