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    Recent observations indicate that galactic outflows are ubiquitous in high-redshift (high-z) galaxies, including normal star-forming galaxies, quasar hosts, and dusty star-forming galaxies (DSFGs). However, the impact of outflows on the evolution of their hosts is still an open question. Here, we analyse the star-formation histories and galactic outflow properties of galaxies in massive haloes ($10^{12}\, {\rm M}_{\odot }\ \lt\ M_{\rm vir}\ \lt\ 5\times 10^{12}\, {\rm M}_{\odot }$) at z ≳ 5.5 in three zoom-in cosmological simulations from the MassiveFIRE suite, as part of the Feedback In Realistic Environments (FIRE) project. The simulations were run with the FIRE-2 model, which does not include feedback from active galactic nuclei. The simulated galaxies resemble z > 4 DSFGs, with star-formation rates of $\sim\!{1000}\ {\rm M}_{\odot }\, \rm yr^{-1}$ and molecular gas masses of Mmol ∼ 1010 M⊙. However, the simulated galaxies are characterized by higher circular velocities than those observed in high-z DSFGs. The mass loading factors from stellar feedback are of the order of ∼0.1, implying that stellar feedback is inefficient in driving galactic outflows and gas is consumed by star formation on much shorter time-scales than it is expelled from the interstellar medium. We also find that stellar feedback is highly inefficient in self-regulating star formation in this regime, with an average integrated star formation efficiency (SFE) per dynamical time of 30 per cent. Finally, compared with FIRE-2 galaxies hosted in similarly massive haloes at lower redshift, we find lower mass loading factors and higher SFEs in the high-z sample. We argue that both effects originate from the higher total and gas surface densities that characterize high-z massive systems.

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  2. Abstract

    An unprecedented array of new observational capabilities are starting to yield key constraints on models of the epoch of first light in the Universe. In this Letter we discuss the implications of the UV radiation background at cosmic dawn inferred by recent JWST observations for radio experiments aimed at detecting the redshifted 21 cm hyperfine transition of diffuse neutral hydrogen. Under the basic assumption that the 21 cm signal is activated by the Lyαphoton field produced by metal-poor stellar systems, we show that a detection at the low frequencies of the EDGES and SARAS3 experiments may be expected from a simple extrapolation of the declining UV luminosity density inferred atz≲ 14 from JWST early galaxy data. Accounting for an early radiation excess above the cosmic microwave background suggests a shallower or flat evolution to simultaneously reproduce low- and high-zcurrent UV luminosity density constraints, which cannot be entirely ruled out, given the large uncertainties from cosmic variance and the faint-end slope of the galaxy luminosity function at cosmic dawn. Our findings raise the intriguing possibility that a high star formation efficiency at early times may trigger the onset of intense Lyαemission at redshiftz≲ 20 and produce a cosmic 21 cm absorption signal 200 Myr after the Big Bang.

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  3. ABSTRACT We introduce a suite of cosmological volume simulations to study the evolution of galaxies as part of the Feedback in Realistic Environments project. FIREbox, the principal simulation of the present suite, provides a representative sample of galaxies (∼1000 galaxies with $M_{\rm star}\gt 10^8\, M_\odot$ at z  = 0) at a resolution ($\Delta {}x\sim {}20\, {\rm pc}$ , $m_{\rm b}\sim {}6\times {}10^4\, M_\odot$ ) comparable to state-of-the-art galaxy zoom-in simulations. FIREbox captures the multiphase nature of the interstellar medium in a fully cosmological setting (L = 22.1 Mpc) thanks to its exceptionally high dynamic range (≳106) and the inclusion of multichannel stellar feedback. Here, we focus on validating the simulation predictions by comparing to observational data. We find that star formation rates, gas masses, and metallicities of simulated galaxies with $M_{\rm star}\lt 10^{10.5-11}\, M_\odot$ broadly agree with observations. These galaxy scaling relations extend to low masses ($M_{\rm star}\sim {}10^7\, M_\odot$ ) and follow a (broken) power-law relationship. Also reproduced are the evolution of the cosmic HI density and the HI column density distribution at z ∼ 0–5. At low z , FIREbox predicts a peak in the stellar-mass–halo-mass relation but also a higher abundance of massive galaxies and a higher cosmic star formation rate density than observed, showing that stellar feedback alone is insufficient to reproduce the properties of massive galaxies at late times. Given its high resolution and sample size, FIREbox offers a baseline prediction of galaxy formation theory in a ΛCDM Universe while also highlighting modelling challenges to be addressed in next-generation galaxy simulations. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 2, 2024
  4. Abstract

    We present visual classifications of merger-induced tidal disturbances in 143M*∼ 1011Mpost-starburst galaxies atz∼ 0.7 identified in theSQuIGGLESample. This sample spectroscopically selects galaxies from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey that have stopped their primary epoch of star formation within the past ∼500 Myr. Visual classifications are performed on Hyper Suprime-Cam imaging. We compare to a control sample of mass- and redshift-matched star-forming and quiescent galaxies from the Large Early Galaxy Census and find that post-starburst galaxies are more likely to be classified as disturbed than either category. This corresponds to a factor of3.61.3+2.9times the disturbance rate of older quiescent galaxies and2.1.73+1.9times the disturbance rate of star-forming galaxies. Assuming tidal features persist for ≲500 Myr, this suggests merging is coincident with quenching in a significant fraction of these post-starbursts. Galaxies with tidal disturbances are younger on average than undisturbed post-starburst galaxies in our sample, suggesting tidal features from a major merger may have faded over time. This may be exacerbated by the fact that, on average, the undisturbed subset is fainter, rendering low-surface-brightness tidal features harder to identify. However, the presence of 10 young (≲150 Myr since quenching) undisturbed galaxies suggests that major mergers are not the only fast physical mechanism that shut down the primary epoch of star formation in massive galaxies at intermediate redshift.

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    Feedback from accreting supermassive black holes (SMBHs) is thought to be a primary driver of quenching in massive galaxies, but how to best implement SMBH physics into galaxy formation simulations remains ambiguous. As part of the Feedback in Realistic Environments (FIRE) project, we explore the effects of different modelling choices for SMBH accretion and feedback in a suite of ∼500 cosmological zoom-in simulations across a wide range of halo mass (1010–1013 M⊙). Within the suite, we vary the numerical schemes for BH accretion and feedback, accretion efficiency, and the strength of mechanical, radiative, and cosmic ray feedback independently. We then compare the outcomes to observed galaxy scaling relations. We find several models satisfying observational constraints for which the energetics in different feedback channels are physically plausible. Interestingly, cosmic rays accelerated by SMBHs play an important role in many plausible models. However, it is non-trivial to reproduce scaling relations across halo mass, and many model variations produce qualitatively incorrect results regardless of parameter choices. The growth of stellar and BH mass are closely related: for example, overmassive BHs tend to overquench galaxies. BH mass is most strongly affected by the choice of accretion efficiency in high-mass haloes, but by feedback efficiency in low-mass haloes. The amount of star formation suppression by SMBH feedback in low-mass haloes is determined primarily by the time-integrated feedback energy. For massive galaxies, the ‘responsiveness’ of a model (how quickly and powerfully the BH responds to gas available for accretion) is an additional important factor for quenching.

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    Accurately reproducing the thin cold gas discs observed in nearby spiral galaxies has been a long standing issue in cosmological simulations. Here, we present measurements of the radially resolved H i scale height in 22 non-interacting Milky Way-mass galaxies from the FIREbox cosmological volume. We measure the H i scale heights using five different approaches commonly used in the literature: fitting the vertical volume density distribution with a Gaussian, the distance between maximum and half-maximum of the vertical volume density distribution, a semi-empirical description using the velocity dispersion and the galactic gravitational potential, the analytic assumption of hydrostatic equilibrium, and the distance from the midplane which encloses ≳60 per cent of the H i mass. We find median H i scale heights, measured using the vertical volume distribution, that range from ∼100 pc in the galactic centres to ∼800 pc in the outskirts and are in excellent agreement with recent observational results. We speculate that the presence of a realistic multiphase interstellar medium, including cold gas, and realistic stellar feedback are the drivers behind the realistic H i scale heights.

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  7. Abstract We describe a public data release of the FIRE-2 cosmological zoom-in simulations of galaxy formation (available at ) from the Feedback In Realistic Environments (FIRE) project. FIRE-2 simulations achieve parsec-scale resolution to explicitly model the multiphase interstellar medium while implementing direct models for stellar evolution and feedback, including stellar winds, core-collapse and Type Ia supernovae, radiation pressure, photoionization, and photoelectric heating. We release complete snapshots from three suites of simulations. The first comprises 20 simulations that zoom in on 14 Milky Way (MW)–mass galaxies, five SMC/LMC-mass galaxies, and four lower-mass galaxies including one ultrafaint; we release 39 snapshots across z = 0–10. The second comprises four massive galaxies, with 19 snapshots across z = 1–10. Finally, a high-redshift suite comprises 22 simulations, with 11 snapshots across z = 5–10. Each simulation also includes dozens of resolved lower-mass (satellite) galaxies in its zoom-in region. Snapshots include all stored properties for all dark matter, gas, and star particles, including 11 elemental abundances for stars and gas, and formation times (ages) of star particles. We also release accompanying (sub)halo catalogs, which include galaxy properties and member star particles. For the simulations to z = 0, including all MW-mass galaxies, we release the formation coordinates and an “ex situ” flag for all star particles, pointers to track particles across snapshots, catalogs of stellar streams, and multipole basis expansions for the halo mass distributions. We describe publicly available python packages for reading and analyzing these simulations. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 23, 2024
  8. ABSTRACT Increasingly, uncertainties in predictions from galaxy formation simulations (at sub-Milky Way masses) are dominated by uncertainties in stellar evolution inputs. In this paper, we present the full set of updates from the Feedback In Realistic Environment (FIRE)-2 version of the FIRE project code, to the next version, FIRE-3. While the transition from FIRE-1 to FIRE-2 focused on improving numerical methods, here we update the stellar evolution tracks used to determine stellar feedback inputs, e.g. stellar mass-loss (O/B and AGB), spectra (luminosities and ionization rates), and supernova rates (core-collapse and Ia), as well as detailed mass-dependent yields. We also update the low-temperature cooling and chemistry, to enable improved accuracy at $T \lesssim 10^{4}\,$K and densities $n\gg 1\, {\rm cm^{-3}}$, and the meta-galactic ionizing background. All of these synthesize newer empirical constraints on these quantities and updated stellar evolution and yield models from a number of groups, addressing different aspects of stellar evolution. To make the updated models as accessible as possible, we provide fitting functions for all of the relevant updated tracks, yields, etc, in a form specifically designed so they can be directly ‘plugged in’ to existing galaxy formation simulations. We also summarize the default FIRE-3 implementations of ‘optional’ physics, including spectrally resolved cosmic rays and supermassive black hole growth and feedback. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 30, 2023
  9. Abstract Over the past decade, rest-frame color–color diagrams have become popular tools for selecting quiescent galaxies at high redshift, breaking the color degeneracy between quiescent and dust-reddened star-forming galaxies. In this work, we study one such color–color selection tool—the rest-frame U − V versus V − J diagram—by employing mock observations of cosmological galaxy formation simulations. In particular, we conduct numerical experiments assessing both trends in galaxy properties in UVJ space and the color–color evolution of massive galaxies as they quench at redshifts z ∼ 1–2. We find that our models broadly reproduce the observed UVJ diagram at z = 1–2, including (for the first time in a cosmological simulation) reproducing the population of extremely dust-reddened galaxies in the top right of the UVJ diagram. However, our models primarily populate this region with low-mass galaxies and do not produce as clear a bimodality between star-forming and quiescent galaxies as is seen in observations. The former issue is due to an excess of dust in low-mass galaxies and relatively gray attenuation curves in high-mass galaxies, while the latter is due to the overpopulation of the green valley in simba . When investigating the time evolution of galaxies on the UVJ diagram, we find that the quenching pathway on the UVJ diagram is independent of the quenching timescale, and instead dependent primarily on the average specific star formation rate in the 1 Gyr prior to the onset of quenching. Our results support the interpretation of different quenching pathways as corresponding to the divergent evolution of post-starburst and green valley galaxies. 
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  10. Abstract

    Observations and simulations have demonstrated that star formation in galaxies must be actively suppressed to prevent the formation of overly massive galaxies. Galactic outflows driven by stellar feedback or supermassive black hole accretion are often invoked to regulate the amount of cold molecular gas available for future star formation but may not be the only relevant quenching processes in all galaxies. We present the discovery of vast molecular tidal features extending up to 64 kpc outside of a massivez= 0.646 post-starburst galaxy that recently concluded its primary star-forming episode. The tidal tails contain (1.2 ± 0.1) × 1010Mof molecular gas, 47% ± 5% of the total cold gas reservoir of the system. Both the scale and magnitude of the molecular tidal features are unprecedented compared to all known nearby or high-redshift merging systems. We infer that the cold gas was stripped from the host galaxies during the merger, which is most likely responsible for triggering the initial burst phase and the subsequent suppression of star formation. While only a single example, this result shows that galaxy mergers can regulate the cold gas contents in distant galaxies by directly removing a large fraction of the molecular gas fuel, and plausibly suppress star formation directly, a qualitatively different physical mechanism than feedback-driven outflows.

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