Observing the Stellar Halo of Andromeda in Cosmological Simulations: The AURIGA2PANDAS Pipeline

Thomas, Guillaume F.; Martin, Nicolas F.; Fattahi, Azadeh; Ibata, Rodrigo A.; Helly, John; McConnachie, Alan W.; Frenk, Carlos; Gómez, Facundo A.; Grand, Robert J. J.; Gwyn, Stephen; Mackey, Dougal; Marinacci, Federico; Pakmor, Rüdiger
Bibliographical reference

The Astrophysical Journal

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We present a direct comparison of the Pan-Andromeda Archaeological Survey (PAndAS) observations of the stellar halo of M31 with the stellar halos of six galaxies from the Auriga simulations. We process the simulated halos through the AURIGA2PANDAS pipeline and create PAndAS-like mocks that fold in all observational limitations of the survey data (foreground contamination from the Milky Way stars, incompleteness of the stellar catalogs, photometric uncertainties, etc.). This allows us to study the survey data and the mocks in the same way and generate directly comparable density maps and radial density profiles. We show that the simulations are overall compatible with the observations. Nevertheless, some systematic differences exist, such as a preponderance for metal-rich stars in the mocks. While these differences could suggest that M31 had a different accretion history or has a different mass compared with the simulated systems, it is more likely a consequence of an underquenching of the star formation history of galaxies, related to the resolution of the AURIGA simulations. The direct comparison enabled by our approach offers avenues to improve our understanding of galaxy formation as they can help pinpoint the observable differences between observations and simulations. Ideally, this approach will be further developed through an application to other stellar halo simulations. To facilitate this step, we release the pipeline to generate the mocks, along with the six mocks presented and used in this contribution.
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