Quenching, Mergers, and Age Profiles for z = 2 Galaxies in IllustrisTNG

Pathak, Debosmita; Belli, Sirio; Weinberger, Rainer

Using the IllustrisTNG cosmological galaxy formation simulations, we analyze the physical properties of young quiescent galaxies at z = 2 with stellar masses above 1010.5 M. This key population provides an unaltered probe into the evolution of galaxies from star-forming to quiescent, and has been recently targeted by several observational studies. Young quiescent galaxies in the simulations do not appear unusually compact, in tension with observations, but they show unique age profiles that are qualitatively consistent with the observed color gradients. In particular, more than half of the simulated young quiescent galaxies show positive age gradients due to recent intense central starbursts, which are triggered by significant mergers. Yet, there is a sizable population of recently quenched galaxies without significant mergers and with flat age profiles. Our results suggest that mergers play a fundamental role in structural transformation, but are not the only available pathway to quench a z = 2 galaxy.

published in
The Astrophysical Journal Letters, Volume 916, Issue 2, id.L23, 7pp.

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