The surprising inefficiency of dwarf satellite quenching

Coral Wheeler, John I. Phillips, Michael C. Cooper, Michael Boylan-Kolchin, James S. Bullock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


We study dwarf satellite galaxy quenching using observations from the Geha et al. NASASloan Atlas/SDSS catalogue together with {n-ary logical and} cold dark matter cosmological simulations to facilitate selection and interpretation. We show that fewer than 30 per cent of dwarfs (M* ≃ 108.5-9.5M) identified as satellites within massive host haloes (Mhost ≃ 1012.5-14M⊙) are quenched, in spite of the expectation from simulations that half of them should have been accreted more than 6 Gyr ago. We conclude that whatever the action triggering environmental quenching of dwarf satellites, the process must be highly inefficient. We investigate a series of simple, one-parameter quenching models in order to understand what is required to explain the low quenched fraction and conclude that either the quenching time-scale is very long (>9.5Gyr, a 'slow starvation' scenario) or that the environmental trigger is not well matched to accretion within the virial volume. We discuss these results in light of the fact that most of the low-mass dwarf satellites in the Local Group are quenched, a seeming contradiction that could point to a characteristic mass scale for satellite quenching.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1396-1404
Number of pages9
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2014


  • Galaxies: dwarf
  • Galaxies: evolution
  • Galaxies: formation
  • Galaxies: star formation

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