Marie Martig

+61 3 9214 5451

Centre for Astrophysics & Supercomputing,
Swinburne University of Technology,
PO Box 218, Mail number H30,
Hawthorn, VIC 3122 Australia

Current Position & Research Interests

I am currently a postdoc in Darren Croton's group at the Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing (Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia). Before that, I was a PhD student in CEA Saclay (France), working with Frederic Bournaud. I defended my thesis in September 2010.

My research aims at studying galaxy formation and evolution. I am particularly interested in the interplay between small-scale physics (gas dynamics, disk instabilities, star formation, feedback from evolved stars) and cosmological processes (galaxy mergers and gas accretion from filaments). My main tools for that are zoom cosmological re-simulations and idealized simulations reaching a parsec-scale resolution (using the Adaptive Mesh Refinement code RAMSES).

If you want to learn more about this, you can find my papers on ADS or arXiv.

You can also read my PhD thesis (the frontpage is in French but the rest is in English).

Curriculum Vitae

You can find a copy here in PDF format.

Main Publications

The Two-phase Formation History of Spiral Galaxies Traced by the Cosmic Evolution of the Bar Fraction
Katarina Kraljic, Frederic Bournaud, Marie Martig
We study the evolution of galactic bars and the link with disk and spheroid formation in a sample of zoom-in cosmological simulations. Our simulation sample focuses on galaxies with present-day stellar masses in the 10^10-10^11 Msun range, in field and loose group environments, with a broad variety of mass growth histories. In our models, bars are almost absent from the progenitors of present-day spirals at z>1.5, and they remain rare and generally too weak to be observable down to z~1. After this characteristic epoch, the fractions of observable and strong bars raise rapidly, bars being present in 80% of spiral galaxies and easily observable in two thirds of these at z<0.5. This is quantitatively consistent with the redshift evolution of the observed bar fraction. Our models predict that the decrease in the bar fraction with increasing redshift should continue with a fraction of observable bars <10-15% in disk galaxies at z>1. Our models also predict later bar formation in lower-mass galaxies, in agreement with existing data. We find that the characteristic epoch of bar formation, namely redshift z~0.8-1, corresponds to the epoch at which today's spirals acquire their disk-dominated morphology. At higher redshift, disks tend to be rapidly destroyed by mergers and gravitational instabilities and rarely develop significant bars. The bar formation epoch corresponds to the transition between an early "violent" phase of spiral galaxy formation at z>1 and a late "secular" phase at z<0.8. In the secular phase, the presence of bars substantially contributes to the growth of the bulge, but the bulge mass budget remains statistically dominated by the contribution of mergers, interactions and disk instabilities at high redshift. Early bars at z>1 are often short-lived, while most of the bars formed at z<1 persist down to z=0, late cosmological gas infall being necessary to maintain some of them.
A Diversity of Progenitors and Histories for Isolated Spiral Galaxies
Marie Martig, Frederic Bournaud, Darren J. Croton, Avishai Dekel, Romain Teyssier
We analyze a suite of 33 cosmological simulations of the evolution of Milky Way-mass galaxies in low-density environments. Our sample spans a broad range of Hubble types at z=0, from nearly bulgeless disks to bulge-dominated galaxies. Despite the fact that a large fraction of the bulge is typically in place by z=1, we find no significant correlation between the morphology at z=1 and at z=0. The z=1 progenitors of disk galaxies span a range of morphologies, including smooth disks, unstable disks, interacting galaxies and bulge-dominated systems. By z=0.5, spiral arms and bars are largely in place and the progenitor morphology is correlated with the final morphology. We next focus on late-type galaxies with a bulge-to-total ratio B/T<0.3 at z=0. These show a correlation between B/T at z=0 and the mass ratio of the largest merger at z<2, as well as with the gas accretion rate at z>1. We find that the galaxies with the lowest B/T tend to have a quiet baryon input history, with no major mergers at z<2, and with a low and constant gas accretion rate that keeps a stable angular-momentum direction. More violent merger or gas accretion histories lead to galaxies with more prominent bulges. Most disk galaxies have a bulge Sersic index n<2. The galaxies with the highest bulge Sersic index tend to have histories of intense gas accretion and disk instability rather than active mergers.
Formation of Late-type Spiral Galaxies: Gas Return from Stellar Populations Regulates Disk Destruction and Bulge Growth
Marie Martig, Frederic Bournaud
Spiral galaxies have most of their stellar mass in a large rotating disk, and only a modest fraction in a central spheroidal bulge. This challenges present models of galaxy formation: galaxies form at the center of dark matter halos through a combination of hierarchical merging and gas accretion along cold streams. Cosmological simulations thus predict that galaxies rapidly grow their bulge through mergers and instabilities and end up with most of their mass in the bulge and an angular momentum much below the observed level, except in dwarf galaxies. We propose that the continuous return of gas by stellar populations over cosmic times could help to solve this issue. A population of stars formed at a given instant typically returns half of its initial mass in the form of gas over 10 billion years, and the process is not dominated by supernovae explosions but by the long-term mass-loss from low- and intermediate-mass stars. Using simulations of galaxy formation, we show that this gas recycling can strongly affect the structural evolution of massive galaxies, potentially solving the bulge fraction issue, as the bulge-to-disk ratio of a massive galaxy can be divided by a factor of 3. The continuous recycling of baryons through star formation and stellar mass loss helps the growth of disks and their survival to interactions and mergers. Instead of forming only early-type, spheroid-dominated galaxies (S0 and ellipticals), the standard cosmological model can successfully account for massive late-type, disk-dominated spiral galaxies (Sb-Sc).
The Thick Disks of Spiral Galaxies as Relics from Gas-rich, Turbulent, Clumpy Disks at High Redshift
Frederic Bournaud, Bruce G. Elmegreen, Marie Martig
The formation of thick stellar disks in spiral galaxies is studied. Simulations of gas-rich young galaxies show formation of internal clumps by gravitational instabilities, clump coalescence into a bulge, and disk thickening by strong stellar scattering. The bulge and thick disks of modern galaxies may form this way. Simulations of minor mergers make thick disks too, but there is an important difference. Thick disks made by internal processes have a constant scale height with galactocentric radius, but thick disks made by mergers flare. The difference arises because in the first case, perpendicular forcing and disk-gravity resistance are both proportional to the disk column density, so the resulting scale height is independent of this density. In the case of mergers, perpendicular forcing is independent of the column density and the low density regions get thicker; the resulting flaring is inconsistent with observations. Late-stage gas accretion and thin disk growth are shown to preserve the constant scale heights of thick disks formed by internal evolution. These results reinforce the idea that disk galaxies accrete most of their mass smoothly and acquire their structure by internal processes, in particular through turbulent and clumpy phases at high redshift.
Morphological quenching of star formation: making early-type galaxies red
Marie Martig, Frederic Bournaud, Romain Teyssier, Avishai Dekel
We point out a natural mechanism for quenching of star formation in early-type galaxies. It automatically links the color of a galaxy with its morphology and does not require gas consumption, removal or termination of gas supply. Given that star formation takes place in gravitationally unstable gas disks, it can be quenched when a disk becomes stable against fragmentation to bound clumps. This can result from the growth of a stellar spheroid, for instance by mergers. We present the concept of morphological quenching (MQ) using standard disk instability analysis, and demonstrate its natural occurrence in a cosmological simulation using an efficient zoom-in technique. We show that the transition from a stellar disk to a spheroid can be sufficient to stabilize the gas disk, quench star formation, and turn an early-type galaxy red and dead while gas accretion continues. The turbulence necessary for disk stability can be stirred up by sheared perturbations within the disk in the absence of bound star-forming clumps. While gas stripping processes are limited to dense groups and clusters, and other quenching mechanisms like AGN feedback, virial shock heating and gravitational heating, are limited to halos more massive than 10^12 Mo, the MQ can explain the appearance of red ellipticals even in less massive halos and in the field. The dense gas disks observed in some of today's red ellipticals may be the relics of this mechanism, whereas red galaxies with quenched gas disks are expected to be more frequent at high redshift.
On the frequency, intensity, and duration of starburst episodes triggered by galaxy interactions and mergers
Paola Di Matteo, Frederic Bournaud, Marie Martig, Francoise Combes, Anne-Laure Melchior, Benoit Semelin
We investigate the intensity enhancement and the duration of starburst episodes, triggered by major galaxy interactions and mergers. To this aim, we analyze two large statistical datasets of numerical simulations. These have been obtained using two independent and different numerical techniques to model baryonic and dark matter evolution, that are extensively compared for the first time. One is a Tree-SPH code, the other one is a grid-based N-body sticky-particles code. We show that, at low redshift, galaxy interactions and mergers in general trigger only moderate star formation enhancements. Strong starbursts where the star formation rate is increased by a factor larger than 5 are rare and found only in about 15% of major galaxy interactions and mergers. Merger-driven starbursts are also rather short-lived, with a typical duration of the activity of a few 10^8 yr. These conclusions are found to be robust, independent from the numerical techniques and star formation models. At higher redshifts where galaxies contain more gas, gas inflow-induced starbursts are neither stronger neither longer than their local counterparts. In turn, the formation of massive gas clumps, results of local Jeans instability that can occur spontaneously in gas-rich disks or be indirectly favored by galaxy interactions, could play a more important role in determining the duration and intensity of star formation episodes.
Triggering of merger-induced starbursts by the tidal field of galaxy groups and clusters
Marie Martig, Frederic Bournaud
Star formation in galaxies is for a part driven by galaxy mergers. At low redshift, star formation activity is low in high-density environments like groups and clusters, and the star formation activity of galaxies increases with their isolation. This star formation-density relation is observed to be reversed at z~1, which is not explained by theoretical models so far. We study the influence of the tidal field of a galaxy group or cluster on the star formation activity of merging galaxies, using N-body simulations including gas dynamics and star formation. We find that the merger-driven star formation is significantly more active in the vicinity of such cosmological structures compared to mergers in the field. The large-scale tidal field can thus enhance the activity of galaxies in dense cosmic structures, and should be particularly efficient at high redshift before quenching processes take effect in the densest regions.