Using hydrodynamical zoom simulations in the standard Λ cold dark matter cosmology, we investigate the evolution of the distribution of baryons (gas and stars) in a Local Group-type universe.
First, with standard star formation and supernova feedback prescriptions, we find that the mean baryonic fraction value estimated at the virial radius of the two main central objects (i.e. the Milky Way and Andromeda) is decreasing over time and is 10–15 per cent lower than the universal value 0.166, at z = 0. This decrease is mainly due to the fact that the amount of accretion of dissipative gas on to the halo, especially at low redshift, is in general much lower than that of the dissipationless dark matter. Indeed, a significant part of the baryons does not collapse on to the haloes and remains in their outskirts, mainly in the form of warm hot intergalactic medium (WHIM). Moreover, during the formation of each object, some dark matter and baryons are also expelled through merger events via tidal disruption. In contrast to baryons, expelled dark matter can be more efficiently re-accreted on to the halo, enhancing both the reduction of fb inside Rv and the increase of the mass of WHIM outside Rv. Varying the efficiency of supernova feedback at low redshift does not seem to significantly affect these trends.
Alternatively, when a significant fraction of the initial gas in the main objects is released at high redshifts by more powerful sources of feedback, such as active galactic nuclei from intermediate-mass black holes in lower mass galaxies, the baryonic fraction at the virial radius can have a lower value () at low redshift. Hence, physical mechanisms able to drive the gas out of the virial radius at high redshifts will have a stronger impact on the deficit of baryons in the mass budget of Milky Way-type galaxies at present times than those that expel the gas in the longer, late phases of galaxy formation.