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Title: Key Physical Processes in the Circumgalactic Medium

Spurred by rich, multiwavelength observations and enabled by new simulations, ranging from cosmological to subparsec scales, the past decade has seen major theoretical progress in our understanding of the circumgalactic medium (CGM). We review key physical processes in the CGM. Our conclusions include the following: ▪ The properties of the CGM depend on a competition between gravity-driven infall and gas cooling. When cooling is slow relative to free fall, the gas is hot (roughly virial temperature), whereas the gas is cold ( T ∼ 104K) when cooling is rapid. ▪ Gas inflows and outflows play crucial roles, as does the cosmological environment. Large-scale structure collimates cold streams and provides angular momentum. Satellite galaxies contribute to the CGM through winds and gas stripping. ▪ In multiphase gas, the hot and cold phases continuously exchange mass, energy, and momentum. The interaction between turbulent mixing and radiative cooling is critical. A broad spectrum of cold gas structures, going down to subparsec scales, arises from fragmentation, coagulation, and condensation onto gas clouds. ▪ Magnetic fields, thermal conduction, and cosmic rays can substantially modify how the cold and hot phases interact, although microphysical uncertainties are presently large. Key open questions for future work include the mutual interplay between small-scale structure and large-scale dynamics, and how the CGM affects the evolution of galaxies.

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Award ID(s):
Author(s) / Creator(s):
Publisher / Repository:
Annual Reviews
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics
Page Range / eLocation ID:
131 to 195
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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