Reproducing sub-millimetre galaxy number counts with cosmological hydrodynamic simulations

Christopher C. Lovell, James E. Geach, Romeel Davé, Desika Narayanan, Qi Li

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Matching the number counts of high-$z$ sub-millimetre-selected galaxies (SMGs) has been a long standing problem for galaxy formation models. In this paper, we use 3D dust radiative transfer to model the sub-mm emission from galaxies in the SIMBA cosmological hydrodynamic simulations, and compare predictions to the latest single-dish observational constraints on the abundance of 850$\mathrm{\mu m}$-selected sources. We find excellent agreement with the integrated 850$\mathrm{\mu m}$ luminosity function, along with good agreement in the redshift distribution of bright SMGs. The agreement is driven primarily by SIMBA's good match to infrared measures of the star formation rate (SFR) function between $z = 2-4$ at high SFRs. Also important is the self-consistent on-the-fly dust model in SIMBA, which predicts, on average, higher dust masses (by up to a factor of 2.5) compared to using a fixed dust-to-metals ratio of 0.3. We construct a lightcone to investigate the effect of far-field blending, and find that 52% of sources are blends of multiple components, which makes a small contribution to the normalisation of the bright-end of the number counts. We provide new fits to the 850$\mathrm{\mu m}$ luminosity as a function of SFR and dust mass. Our results demonstrate that exotic solutions to the discrepancy between sub-mm counts in simulations and observations, such as a top-heavy IMF, are unnecessary, and that sub-millimetre-bright phases are a natural consequence of massive galaxy evolution.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jan 2021


  • astro-ph.GA


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