Can photoionization squelching resolve the substructure crisis?

Rachel S. Somerville

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

321 Scopus citations


Cold dark matter theory predicts that the Local Group should contain many more dwarf-sized objects than the observed number of dwarf galaxies - the so-called substructure problem. We investigate whether the suppression of star formation in these small objects due to the presence of a photoionizing background can resolve the problem. We make use of results from recent hydrodynamic simulations to build a recipe for the suppression of gas infall into semianalytic galaxy formation models and use these to predict the luminosity function of dwarf galaxies in the Local Group. In the models without photoionization "squelching," we predict a large excess of faint dwarf galaxies compared with the observed number in the Local Group - thus, the usual recipe for supernova feedback used in semianalytic models does not solve the substructure problem on its own. When we include photoionization squelching, we find good agreement with the observations. We have neglected tidal destruction, which probably further reduces the number of dwarf galaxies. We conclude that photoionizing squelching easily solves the substructure problem. In fact, it is likely that once this effect is taken into account, models with reduced small-scale power (e.g., warm dark matter) would underproduce dwarf galaxies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L23-L26
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1 II
StatePublished - Jun 10 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Dark matter
  • Galaxies: dwarf
  • Galaxies: formation


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