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Keywords:

  • galaxies: formation;
  • galaxies: fundamental parameters;
  • galaxies: haloes;
  • galaxies: kinematics and dynamics;
  • galaxies: spiral

ABSTRACT

Most of the baryons in the Universe are not in the form of stars and cold gas in galaxies. Galactic outflows driven by supernovae/stellar winds are the leading mechanisms for explaining this fact. The scaling relation between galaxy mass and outer rotation velocity (also known as the baryonic Tully–Fisher relation, BTF) has recently been used as evidence against this viewpoint. We use a Λ cold dark matter (ΛCDM)-based semi-analytic disc galaxy formation model to investigate these claims. In our model, galaxies with less efficient star formation and higher gas fractions are more efficient at ejecting gas from galaxies. This somewhat counter intuitive result is due to the (observational) fact that galaxies with less efficient star formation and higher gas fractions tend to live in dark matter haloes with lower circular velocities, from which less energy is required to escape the potential well. In our model the intrinsic scatter in the BTF is ≃0.15 dex, and mostly reflects scatter in dark halo concentration. The scatter is largely independent of galaxy structure because of the large radius within which galaxy rotation velocities are measured. The observed scatter, equal to ≃0.24 dex, is dominated by measurement errors. The best estimate for the intrinsic scatter is that it is less than 0.15 dex, and thus our ΛCDM-based model (which does not include all possible sources of scatter) is only just consistent with this. Future observations of the BTF scatter could be made with a more stringent measurement of the intrinsic scatter, and thus provide a strong constraint to galaxy formation models. In our model, gas-rich galaxies, at fixed virial velocity (Vvir), with lower stellar masses have lower baryonic masses. This is consistent with the expectation that galaxies with lower stellar masses have had less energy available to drive an outflow. However, when the outer rotation velocity (Vflat) is used the correlation has the opposite sign, with a slope in agreement with observations. This is due to the fact there is scatter in the relation between Vflat and Vvir. In summary, contrary to some previous claims, we show that basic features of the BTF are consistent with a ΛCDM-based model in which the low efficiency of galaxy formation is determined by galactic outflows.