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The E-MOSAICS project: tracing galaxy formation and assembly with the age-metallicity distribution of globular clusters

Kruijssen, JMD, Pfeffer, JL, Crain, RA and Bastian, N (2019) The E-MOSAICS project: tracing galaxy formation and assembly with the age-metallicity distribution of globular clusters. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. ISSN 0035-8711

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Open Access URL: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/mnras/stz968 (Published version)

Abstract

We present 25 cosmological zoom-in simulations of Milky Way-mass galaxies in the `MOdelling Star cluster population Assembly In Cosmological Simulations within EAGLE' (E-MOSAICS) project. E-MOSAICS couples a detailed physical model for the formation, evolution, and disruption of star clusters to the EAGLE galaxy formation simulations. This enables following the co-formation and co-evolution of galaxies and their star cluster populations, thus realising the long-standing promise of using globular clusters (GCs) as tracers of galaxy formation and assembly. The simulations show that the age-metallicity distributions of GC populations exhibit strong galaxy-to-galaxy variations, resulting from differences in their evolutionary histories. We develop a formalism for systematically constraining the assembly histories of galaxies using GC age-metallicity distributions. These distributions are characterised through 13 metrics that we correlate with 30 quantities describing galaxy formation and assembly (e.g. halo properties, formation/assembly redshifts, stellar mass assembly time-scales, galaxy merger statistics), resulting in 20 statistically (highly) significant correlations. The GC age-metallicity distribution is a sensitive probe of the mass growth, metal enrichment, and minor merger history of the host galaxy. No such relation is found between GCs and major mergers, which play a sub-dominant role in GC formation for Milky Way-mass galaxies. Finally, we show how the GC age-metallicity distribution enables the reconstruction of the host galaxy's merger tree, allowing us to identify all progenitors with masses $M_*\gtrsim10^8$ M$_\odot$ for redshifts $1\leq z\leq2.5$. These results demonstrate that cosmological simulations of the co-formation and co-evolution of GCs and their host galaxies successfully unlock the potential of GCs as quantitative tracers of galaxy formation and assembly.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This article has been accepted for publication in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society ©: 2019 The Authors Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.
Uncontrolled Keywords: 0201 Astronomical and Space Sciences
Subjects: Q Science > QB Astronomy
Q Science > QC Physics
Divisions: Astrophysics Research Institute
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Related URLs:
Date Deposited: 25 Apr 2019 08:14
Last Modified: 25 Apr 2019 08:17
DOI or Identification number: 10.1093/mnras/stz968
URI: http://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/10595

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