University of Hertfordshire

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From the same journal

By the same authors

The formation and evolution of low-surface-brightness galaxies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


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    Final published version, 3.58 MB, PDF document

  • G. Martin
  • S. Kaviraj
  • C. Laigle
  • J. E. G. Devriendt
  • R. A. Jackson
  • S. Peirani
  • Y. Dubois
  • C. Pichon
  • A. Slyz
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)796-818
Number of pages23
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Early online date23 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019


Our statistical understanding of galaxy evolution is fundamentally driven by objects that lie above the surface-brightness limits of current wide-area surveys (μ ∼23 mag arcsec -2). While both theory and small, deep surveys have hinted at a rich population of low-surface-brightness galaxies (LSBGs) fainter than these limits, their formation remains poorly understood. We use Horizon-AGN, a cosmological hydrodynamical simulation to study how LSBGs, and in particular the population of ultra-diffuse galaxies (UDGs; μ > 24.5 mag arcsec -2), form and evolve over time. For M∗> 108, M⊙, LSBGs contribute 47, 7, and 6 per cent of the local number, mass, and luminosity densities, respectively (∼85/11/10 per cent for M∗> 107 M⊙). Today's LSBGs have similar dark-matter fractions and angular momenta to high-surface-brightness galaxies (HSBGs; μ < 23 mag arcsec -2), but larger effective radii (×2.5 for UDGs) and lower fractions of dense, star-forming gas (more than ×6 less in UDGs than HSBGs). LSBGs originate from the same progenitors as HSBGs at z > 2. However, LSBG progenitors form stars more rapidly at early epochs. The higher resultant rate of supernova-energy injection flattens their gas-density profiles, which, in turn, creates shallower stellar profiles that are more susceptible to tidal processes. After z ∼1, tidal perturbations broaden LSBG stellar distributions and heat their cold gas, creating the diffuse, largely gas-poor LSBGs seen today. In clusters, ram-pressure stripping provides an additional mechanism that assists in gas removal in LSBG progenitors. Our results offer insights into the formation of a galaxy population that is central to a complete understanding of galaxy evolution, and that will be a key topic of research using new and forthcoming deep-wide surveys.


© The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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