PhD ceremony: A.A. Villalobos Cofré, 13.15 uur, Academiegebouw, Broerstraat 5, Groningen
Thesis: Simulations of the formation of thick discs in galaxies
Promotor(s): prof. A. Helmi
Faculty: Mathematics and Natural Sciences
This thesis focuses on the formation of thick discs in galaxies using high-resolution numerical simulations. Along with the thin disc, the central bulge and the halo, the thick disc is an important galactic component, present in many spiral galaxies including our own Milky Way. However, despite its ubiquitous character the formation process of thick discs remains not well understood. Observational evidence collected in the Milky Way and external galaxies shows that, in general, thick discs are composed by old stars. This fact implies that they are likely to preserve key information of the early history of galaxies, hence their relevance.
In this thesis I present a detailed study of the scenario in which a thick disc is the result of a merger between a pre-existing disc galaxy and a smaller galaxy, with the aim to make testable predictions of this model that may be later confronted with observations. I start by exploring the general properties of the simulated thick discs, and establish how these depend on the general properties of the progenitor systems. Then I analyse the phase-space structure of simulated thick disc stars, particularly in small volumes resembling the Solar vicinity, and identify a set of key observables that act as tracers of this formation model. Finally, I study how the later slow growth of a new (thin and more massive) disc component affects the structure of the simulated thick discs.
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