Garrison-Kimmel et al., available on arXiv
Movies of the evolution of Milky Way-mass FIRE-2 galaxies are available here
Abstract: We use hydrodynamic cosmological zoom-in simulations from the FIRE project to explore the morphologies and kinematics of fifteen Milky Way (MW)-mass galaxies. Our sample ranges from compact, bulge-dominated systems with 90% of their stellar mass within 2.5 kpc to well-ordered disks that reach >~15 kpc. The gas in our galaxies always forms a thin, rotation-supported disk at z=0, with sizes primarily determined by the gas mass. For stars, we quantify kinematics and morphology both via the fraction of stars on disk-like orbits and with the radial extent of the stellar disk. In this mass range, stellar morphology and kinematics are poorly correlated with the properties of the halo available from dark matter-only simulations (halo merger history, spin, or formation time). They more strongly correlate with the gaseous histories of the galaxies: those that maintain a high gas mass in the disk after z~1 develop well-ordered stellar disks. The best predictor of morphology we identify is the spin of the gas in the halo at the time the galaxy formed 1/2 of its stars (i.e. the gas that builds the galaxy). High-z mergers, before a hot halo emerges, produce some of the most massive bulges in the sample (from compact disks in gas-rich mergers), while later-forming bulges typically originate from internal processes, as satellites are stripped of gas before the galaxies merge. Moreover, most stars in z=0 MW-mass galaxies (even z=0 bulge stars) form in a disk: >~60-90% of stars begin their lives rotationally supported.