Star formation histories of dwarf galaxies in the FIRE simulations: dependence on mass and Local Group environment

Garrison-Kimmel et al., available on arXiv

Abstract: We study star formation histories (SFHs) of ~500 dwarf galaxies (stellar mass Mstar = 10^5-10^9 Msun) from FIRE-2 cosmological zoom-in simulations. We compare dwarfs around individual Milky Way (MW)-mass galaxies, dwarfs in Local Group (LG)-like environments, and true field (i.e. isolated) dwarf galaxies. We reproduce observed trends wherein higher-mass dwarfs quench later (if at all), regardless of environment. We also identify differences between the environments, both in terms of “satellite vs. central” and “LG vs. individual MWvs. isolated dwarf central.” Around the individual MW-mass hosts, we recover the result expected from environmental quenching: central galaxies in the “near field” have more extended SFHs than their satellite counterparts, with the former more closely resemble isolated (“true field”) dwarfs (though near-field centrals are still somewhat earlier forming). However, this difference is muted in the LG-like environments, where both near-field centrals and satellites have similar SFHs, which resemble satellites of single MW-mass hosts. This distinction is strongest for Mstar = 10^6-10^7 Msun but exists at other masses. Our results suggest that the paired halo nature of the LG may regulate star formation in dwarf galaxies even beyond the virial radii of the MW and Andromeda. Caution is needed when comparing zoom-in simulations targeting isolated dwarf galaxies against observed dwarf galaxies in the LG.