The distribution of atomic hydrogen in EAGLE galaxies: morphologies, profiles, and HI holes

Yannick M. Bahé*, Robert A. Crain, Guinevere Kauffmann, Richard G. Bower, Joop Schaye, Michelle Furlong, Claudia Lagos, Matthieu Schaller, James W. Trayford, Claudio Dalla Vecchia, Tom Theuns

*Corresponding author for this work

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We compare the mass and internal distribution of atomic hydrogen (H I) in 2200 present-day central galaxies with Mstar > 1010 M from the 100 Mpc EAGLE 'Reference' simulation to observational data. Atomic hydrogen fractions are corrected for self-shielding using a fitting formula from radiative transfer simulations and for the presence of molecular hydrogen using an empirical or a theoretical prescription from the literature. The resulting neutral hydrogen fractions, MHI+H2/Mstar, agree with observations to better than 0.1 dex for galaxies with Mstar between 1010 and 1011 M. Our fiducial, empirical H2 model based on gas pressure results in galactic HI mass fractions, MHI/Mstar, that agree with observations from the GASS survey to better than 0.3 dex, but the alternative theoretical H2 formula from high-resolution simulations leads to a negative offset in MHI/Mstar of up to 0.5 dex. Visual inspection of mock HI images reveals that most HI discs in simulated HI-rich galaxies are vertically disturbed, plausibly due to recent accretion events. Many galaxies (up to 80 per cent) contain spuriously large HI holes, which are likely formed as a consequence of the feedback implementation in EAGLE. The HI mass-size relation of all simulated galaxies is close to (but 16 per cent steeper than) observed, and when only galaxies without large holes in the HI disc are considered, the agreement becomes excellent (better than 0.1 dex). The presence of large HI holes also makes the radial HI surface density profiles somewhat too low in the centre, at σHI > 1M pc-2 (by a factor of ≲2 compared to data from the Bluedisk survey). In the outer region (σHI < 1M pc-2), the simulated profiles agree quantitatively with observations. Scaled by HI size, the simulated profiles of HI-rich (MHI > 109.8M) and control galaxies (109.1 M >MHI > 109.8 M) follow each other closely, as observed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1115-1136
Number of pages22
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number1
Early online date19 Dec 2015
Publication statusPublished - 11 Feb 2016


  • galaxies: formation
  • galaxies: ISM
  • galaxies: structure
  • methods: numerical
  • UKRI
  • ST/K00042X/1
  • ST/H008519/1
  • ST/K003267/1
  • ST/F001166/1
  • ST/I000976/1


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