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  1. ABSTRACT

    We revisit the conditions present in supermassive discs (SMDs) formed by the merger of gas-rich, metal-enriched galaxies at redshift z ∼ 10. We find that SMDs naturally form hydrostatic cores which go through a rapidly accreting supermassive star phase, before directly collapsing into massive black holes via the general relativistic instability. The growth and collapse of the cores occurs within ∼5 × 105 yr from the formation of the SMD, producing bright electromagnetic, neutrino and gravitational wave transients with a typical duration of a few minutes and, respectively, a typical flux and a typical strain amplitude at Earth of ∼10−8 erg s−1 cm−2 and ∼4 × 10−21. We provide a simple fitting formula for the resulting black hole masses, which range from a few 106 to 108 M⊙ depending on the initial SMD configuration. Crucially, our analysis does not require any specific assumption on the thermal properties of the gas, nor on the angular momentum loss mechanisms within the SMD. Led by these findings, we argue that the merger-driven scenario provides a robust pathway for the rapid formation of supermassive black holes at z > 6. It provides an explanation for the origin of the brightest and oldest quasars without the need ofmore »a sustained growth phase from a much smaller seed. Its smoking gun signatures can be tested directly via multimessenger observations.

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  2. ABSTRACT

    Many studies concluded that magnetic fields suppress star formation in molecular clouds and Milky Way like galaxies. However, most of these studies are based on fully developed fields that have reached the saturation level, with little work on investigating how an initial weak primordial field affects star formation in low metallicity environments. In this paper, we investigate the impact of a weak initial field on low metallicity dwarf galaxies. We perform high-resolution arepo simulations of five isolated dwarf galaxies. Two models are hydrodynamical, two start with a primordial magnetic field of 10$^{-6} \, \mu$G and different sub-solar metallicities, and one starts with a saturated field of 10$^{-2} \, \mu$G. All models include a non-equilibrium, time-dependent chemical network that includes the effects of gas shielding from the ambient ultraviolet field. Sink particles form directly from the gravitational collapse of gas and are treated as star-forming clumps that can accrete gas. We vary the ambient uniform far ultraviolet field, and cosmic ray ionization rate between 1 per cent and 10 per cent of solar values. We find that the magnetic field has little impact on the global star formation rate (SFR), which is in tension with some previously published results. We further find that themore »initial field strength has little impact on the global SFR. We show that an increase in the mass fractions of both molecular hydrogen and cold gas, along with changes in the perpendicular gas velocity dispersion and the magnetic field acting in the weak-field model, overcome the expected suppression in star formation.

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  3. Abstract

    Magnetic fields are dynamically important in the diffuse interstellar medium. Understanding how gravitationally bound, star-forming clouds form requires modeling of the fields in a self-consistent, supernova-driven, turbulent, magnetized, stratified disk. We employ the FLASH magnetohydrodynamics code to follow the formation and early evolution of clouds with final masses of 3–8 × 103Mwithin such a simulation. We use the code’s adaptive mesh refinement capabilities to concentrate numerical resolution in zoom-in regions covering single clouds, allowing us to investigate the detailed dynamics and field structure of individual self-gravitating clouds in a consistent background medium. Our goal is to test the hypothesis that dense clouds are dynamically evolving objects far from magnetohydrostatic equilibrium. We find that the cloud envelopes are magnetically supported with field lines parallel to density gradients and flow velocity, as indicated by the histogram of relative orientations and other statistical measures. In contrast, the dense cores of the clouds are gravitationally dominated, with gravitational energy exceeding internal, kinetic, or magnetic energy and accelerations due to gravity exceeding those due to magnetic or thermal pressure gradients. In these regions, field directions vary strongly, with a slight preference toward being perpendicular to density gradients, as shown by three-dimensional histograms of relativemore »orientation.

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  4. Abstract The Galactic bar plays a critical role in the evolution of the Milky Way’s Central Molecular Zone (CMZ), driving gas toward the Galactic Center via gas flows known as dust lanes. To explore the interaction between the CMZ and the dust lanes, we run hydrodynamic simulations in arepo , modeling the potential of the Milky Way’s bar in the absence of gas self-gravity and star formation physics, and we study the flows of mass using Monte Carlo tracer particles. We estimate the efficiency of the inflow via the dust lanes, finding that only about a third (30% ± 12%) of the dust lanes’ mass initially accretes onto the CMZ, while the rest overshoots and accretes later. Given observational estimates of the amount of gas within the Milky Way’s dust lanes, this suggests that the true total inflow rate onto the CMZ is 0.8 ± 0.6 M ⊙ yr −1 . Clouds in this simulated CMZ have sudden peaks in their average density near the apocenter, where they undergo violent collisions with inflowing material. While these clouds tend to counter-rotate due to shear, co-rotating clouds occasionally occur due to the injection of momentum from collisions with inflowing material (∼52% aremore »strongly counter-rotating, and ∼7% are strongly co-rotating of the 44 cloud sample). We investigate the formation and evolution of these clouds, finding that they are fed by many discrete inflow events, providing a consistent source of gas to CMZ clouds even as they collapse and form stars.« less
  5. ABSTRACT The sensitivity of X-ray facilities and our ability to detect fainter active galactic nuclei (AGNs) will increase with the upcoming Athena mission and the AXIS and Lynx concept missions, thus improving our understanding of supermassive black holes (BHs) in a luminosity regime that can be dominated by X-ray binaries. We analyse the population of faint AGNs ($L_{\rm x, 2{-}10 \, keV}\leqslant 10^{42}\, \rm erg\,s^{ -1}$) in the Illustris, TNG100, EAGLE, and SIMBA cosmological simulations, and find that the properties of their host galaxies vary from one simulation to another. In Illustris and EAGLE, faint AGNs are powered by low-mass BHs located in low-mass star-forming galaxies. In TNG100 and SIMBA, they are mostly associated with more massive BHs in quenched massive galaxies. We model the X-ray binary (XRB) populations of the simulated galaxies, and find that AGNs often dominate the galaxy AGN + XRB hard X-ray luminosity at z > 2, while XRBs dominate in some simulations at z < 2. Whether the AGN or XRB emission dominates in star-forming and quenched galaxies depends on the simulations. These differences in simulations can be used to discriminate between galaxy formation models with future high-resolution X-ray observations. We compare the luminosity ofmore »simulated faint AGN host galaxies to observations of stacked galaxies from Chandra. Our comparison indicates that the simulations post-processed with our X-ray modelling tend to overestimate the AGN + XRB X-ray luminosity; luminosity that can be strongly affected by AGN obscuration. Some simulations reveal clear AGN trends as a function of stellar mass (e.g. galaxy luminosity drop in massive galaxies), which are not apparent in the observations.« less
  6. Abstract

    The formation of globular clusters and their relation to the distribution of dark matter have long puzzled astronomers. One of the most recently proposed globular cluster formation channels ties ancient star clusters to the large-scale streaming velocity of baryons relative to dark matter in the early universe. These streaming velocities affect the global infall of baryons into dark matter halos, the high-redshift halo mass function, and the earliest generations of stars. In some cases, streaming velocities may result in dense regions of dark matter-free gas that becomes Jeans unstable, potentially leading to the formation of compact star clusters. We investigate this hypothesis using cosmological hydrodynamical simulations that include a full chemical network and the formation and destruction of H2, a process crucial for the formation of the first stars. We find that high-density gas in regions with significant streaming velocities is indeed somewhat offset from the centers of dark matter halos, but this offset is typically significantly smaller than the virial radius. Gas outside of dark matter halos never reaches Jeans-unstable densities in our simulations. We postulate that low-level (Z≈ 10−3Z) metal enrichment by Population III supernovae may enable cooling in the extra-virial regions, allowing gas outside of darkmore »matter halos to cool to the cosmic microwave background temperature and become Jeans unstable. Follow-up simulations that include both streaming velocities and metal enrichment by Population III supernovae are needed to understand if streaming velocities provide one path for the formation of globular clusters in the early universe.

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  7. ABSTRACT

    In the hierarchical view of star formation, giant molecular clouds (GMCs) undergo fragmentation to form small-scale structures made up of stars and star clusters. Here we study the connection between young star clusters and cold gas across a range of extragalactic environments by combining the high resolution (1″) PHANGS–ALMA catalogue of GMCs with the star cluster catalogues from PHANGS–HST. The star clusters are spatially matched with the GMCs across a sample of 11 nearby star-forming galaxies with a range of galactic environments (centres, bars, spiral arms, etc.). We find that after 4 − 6 Myr the star clusters are no longer associated with any gas clouds. Additionally, we measure the autocorrelation of the star clusters and GMCs as well as their cross-correlation to quantify the fractal nature of hierarchical star formation. Young (≤10 Myr) star clusters are more strongly autocorrelated on kpc and smaller spatial scales than the $\gt \, 10$ Myr stellar populations, indicating that the hierarchical structure dissolves over time.

  8. ABSTRACT To investigate how molecular clouds react to different environmental conditions at a galactic scale, we present a catalogue of giant molecular clouds (GMCs) resolved down to masses of ∼10 M⊙ from a simulation of the entire disc of an interacting M51-like galaxy and a comparable isolated galaxy. Our model includes time-dependent gas chemistry, sink particles for star formation, and supernova feedback, meaning we are not reliant on star formation recipes based on threshold densities and can follow the physics of the cold molecular phase. We extract GMCs from the simulations and analyse their properties. In the disc of our simulated galaxies, spiral arms seem to act merely as snowplows, gathering gas, and clouds without dramatically affecting their properties. In the centre of the galaxy, on the other hand, environmental conditions lead to larger, more massive clouds. While the galaxy interaction has little effect on cloud masses and sizes, it does promote the formation of counter-rotating clouds. We find that the identified clouds seem to be largely gravitationally unbound at first glance, but a closer analysis of the hierarchical structure of the molecular interstellar medium shows that there is a large range of virial parameters with a smooth transition from unboundmore »to mostly bound for the densest structures. The common observation that clouds appear to be virialized entities may therefore be due to CO bright emission highlighting a specific level in this hierarchical binding sequence. The small fraction of gravitationally bound structures found suggests that low galactic star formation efficiencies may be set by the process of cloud formation and initial collapse.« less
  9. Abstract

    We combine JWST observations with Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array CO and Very Large Telescope MUSE Hαdata to examine off-spiral arm star formation in the face-on, grand-design spiral galaxy NGC 628. We focus on the northern spiral arm, around a galactocentric radius of 3–4 kpc, and study two spurs. These form an interesting contrast, as one is CO-rich and one CO-poor, and they have a maximum azimuthal offset in MIRI 21μm and MUSE Hαof around 40° (CO-rich) and 55° (CO-poor) from the spiral arm. The star formation rate is higher in the regions of the spurs near spiral arms, but the star formation efficiency appears relatively constant. Given the spiral pattern speed and rotation curve of this galaxy and assuming material exiting the arms undergoes purely circular motion, these offsets would be reached in 100–150 Myr, significantly longer than the 21μm and Hαstar formation timescales (both < 10 Myr). The invariance of the star formation efficiency in the spurs versus the spiral arms indicates massive star formation is not only triggered in spiral arms, and cannot simply occur in the arms and then drift away from the wave pattern. These early JWST results show that in situ star formation likelymore »occurs in the spurs, and that the observed young stars are not simply the “leftovers” of stellar birth in the spiral arms. The excellent physical resolution and sensitivity that JWST can attain in nearby galaxies will well resolve individual star-forming regions and help us to better understand the earliest phases of star formation.

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