Star formation modes and population gradients in simulated dwarf galaxies
Today we largely understand the large scale evolution of the Universe but we have only little knowledge of the small scale physics involved in forming and evolving the baryonic structure (gas, stars and dust) of galaxies. Dwarf galaxies are considerd to be the ideal ”galactic laboratories” to gain insight into the astrophysical processes governing galaxy evolution in general. The obvious main feature of a dwarf galaxy is, that it is small - about 1/10 of the Milky Way’s size. Their relatively shallow gravitational potential makes them very sensitive to the different (astro)physical processes that affect galaxy evolution and counteract gravity. Hence we can use these galaxies to try to understand and answer the questions we still have about how, when and why galaxies form stars, stop forming stars, and recycle stellar-synthesised elements in the interstellar medium. Experimenting in these “galactic laboratories” is of course confined to the virtual universe, which we do by running state- of-the-art Nbody-SPH simulations of dwarf galaxy formation and evolution. Due to their small dimensions, these can achieve much higher resolution and physical detail than any other type of galactic simulations. In this talk, I will discuss the main prop- erties/parameters determining the behaviour and appearance of the dwarf galaxy models, and use the results to compare with and explain observations.