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  1. ABSTRACT We present an analysis of spatially resolved gas-phase metallicity relations in five dwarf galaxies ($\rm \mathit{M}_{halo} \approx 10^{11}\, {\rm M}_\odot$, $\rm \mathit{M}_\star \approx 10^{8.8}{-}10^{9.6}\, {\rm M}_\odot$) from the FIRE-2 (Feedback in Realistic Environments) cosmological zoom-in simulation suite, which include an explicit model for sub-grid turbulent mixing of metals in gas, near z ≈ 0, over a period of 1.4 Gyr, and compare our findings with observations. While these dwarf galaxies represent a diverse sample, we find that all simulated galaxies match the observed mass–metallicity (MZR) and mass–metallicity gradient (MZGR) relations. We note that in all five galaxies, the metallicities are effectively identical between phases of the interstellar medium (ISM), with 95 ${{\ \rm per\ cent}}$ of the gas being within ±0.1 dex between the cold and dense gas (T < 500 K and nH > 1 cm−3), ionized gas (near the H αT ≈ 104 K ridge-line), and nebular regions (ionized gas where the 10 Myr-averaged star formation rate is non-zero). We find that most of the scatter in relative metallicity between cold dense gas and ionized gas/nebular regions can be attributed to either local starburst events or metal-poor inflows. We also note the presence of a major merger in one of our galaxies,more »m11e, with a substantial impact on the metallicity distribution in the spatially resolved map, showing two strong metallicity peaks and triggering a starburst in the main galaxy.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 5, 2023
  2. ABSTRACT Possible formation scenarios of supermassive black holes (BHs) in the early universe include rapid growth from less massive seed BHs via super-Eddington accretion or runaway mergers, yet both of these scenarios would require seed BHs to efficiently sink to and be trapped in the Galactic Centre via dynamical friction. This may not be true for their complicated dynamics in clumpy high-z galaxies. In this work, we study this ‘sinking problem’ with state-of-the-art high-resolution cosmological simulations, combined with both direct N-body integration of seed BH trajectories and post-processing of randomly generated test particles with a newly developed dynamical friction estimator. We find that seed BHs less massive than $10^8\, \mathrm{M}_\odot$ (i.e. all but the already-supermassive seeds) cannot efficiently sink in typical high-z galaxies. We also discuss two possible solutions: dramatically increasing the number of seeds such that one seed can end up trapped in the Galactic Centre by chance, or seed BHs being embedded in dense structures (e.g. star clusters) with effective masses above the mass threshold. We discuss the limitations of both solutions.
  3. ABSTRACT We use FIRE-2 simulations to examine 3D variations of gas-phase elemental abundances of [O/H], [Fe/H], and [N/H] in 11 MW and M31-mass galaxies across their formation histories at z ≤ 1.5 ($t_{\rm lookback} \le 9.4 \, \rm {Gyr}$), motivated by characterizing the initial conditions of stars for chemical tagging. Gas within $1 \, \rm {kpc}$ of the disc mid-plane is vertically homogeneous to $\lesssim 0.008 \, \rm {dex}$ at all z ≤ 1.5. We find negative radial gradients (metallicity decreases with galactocentric radius) at all times, which steepen over time from $\approx \! -0.01 \, \rm {dex}\, \rm {kpc}^{-1}$ at z = 1 ($t_{\rm lookback} = 7.8 \, \rm {Gyr}$) to $\approx \! -0.03 \, \rm {dex}\, \rm {kpc}^{-1}$ at z = 0, and which broadly agree with observations of the MW, M31, and nearby MW/M31-mass galaxies. Azimuthal variations at fixed radius are typically $0.14 \, \rm {dex}$ at z = 1, reducing to $0.05 \, \rm {dex}$ at z = 0. Thus, over time radial gradients become steeper while azimuthal variations become weaker (more homogeneous). As a result, azimuthal variations were larger than radial variations at z ≳ 0.8 ($t_{\rm lookback} \gtrsim 6.9 \, \rm {Gyr}$). Furthermore, elemental abundancesmore »are measurably homogeneous (to ≲0.05 dex) across a radial range of $\Delta R \approx 3.5 \, \rm {kpc}$ at z ≳ 1 and $\Delta R \approx 1.7 \, \rm {kpc}$ at z = 0. We also measure full distributions of elemental abundances, finding typically negatively skewed normal distributions at z ≳ 1 that evolve to typically Gaussian distributions by z = 0. Our results on gas abundances inform the initial conditions for stars, including the spatial and temporal scales for applying chemical tagging to understand stellar birth in the MW.« less
  4. ABSTRACT We study the escape fraction of ionizing photons (fesc) in two cosmological zoom-in simulations of galaxies in the reionization era with halo mass Mhalo ∼ 1010 and $10^{11}\, \mathrm{ M}_{\odot }$ (stellar mass M* ∼ 107 and $10^9\, \mathrm{ M}_{\odot }$) at z = 5 from the Feedback in Realistic Environments project. These simulations explicitly resolve the formation of proto-globular clusters (GCs) self-consistently, where 17–39 per cent of stars form in bound clusters during starbursts. Using post-processing Monte Carlo radiative transfer calculations of ionizing radiation, we compute fesc from cluster stars and non-cluster stars formed during a starburst over ∼100 Myr in each galaxy. We find that the averaged fesc over the lifetime of a star particle follows a similar distribution for cluster stars and non-cluster stars. Clusters tend to have low fesc in the first few Myr, presumably because they form preferentially in more extreme environments with high optical depths; the fesc increases later as feedback starts to destroy the natal cloud. On the other hand, some non-cluster stars formed between cluster complexes or in the compressed shells at the front of a superbubble can also have high fesc. We find that cluster stars on average have comparable fesc to non-cluster stars. This result ismore »robust across several star formation models in our simulations. Our results suggest that the fraction of ionizing photons from proto-GCs to cosmic reionization is comparable to the cluster formation efficiencies in high-redshift galaxies and thus proto-GCs likely contribute an appreciable fraction of photons but are not the dominant sources for reionization.« less
  5. ABSTRACT We describe three different methods for exploring the hydrogen reionization epoch using fast radio bursts (FRBs) and provide arguments for the existence of FRBs at high redshift (z). The simplest way, observationally, is to determine the maximum dispersion measure (DMmax) of FRBs for an ensemble that includes bursts during the reionization. The DMmax provides information regarding reionization much like the optical depth of the cosmic microwave background to Thomson scattering does, and it has the potential to be more accurate than constraints from Planck, if DMmax can be measured to a precision better than 500 pccm−3. Another method is to measure redshifts of about 40 FRBs between z of 6 and 10 with ${\sim}10{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$ accuracy to obtain the average electron density in four different z-bins with ${\sim}4{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$ accuracy. These two methods do not require knowledge of the FRB luminosity function and its possible redshift evolution. Finally, we show that the reionization history is reflected in the number of FRBs per unit DM, given a fluence limited survey of FRBs that includes bursts during the reionization epoch; we show using FIRE simulations that the contribution to DM from the FRB host galaxy and circumgalacticmore »medium during the reionization era is a small fraction of the observed DM. This third method requires no redshift information but does require knowledge of the FRB luminosity function.« less
  6. null (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT We present the radial gas-phase, mass-weighted metallicity profiles and gradients of the TNG50 star-forming galaxy population measured at redshifts z = 0–3. We investigate the redshift evolution of gradients and examine relations between gradient (negative) steepness and galaxy properties. We find that TNG50 gradients are predominantly negative at all redshifts, although we observe significant diversity among these negative gradients. We determine that the gradients of all galaxies grow more negative with redshift at a roughly constant rate of approximately $-0.02\ \mathrm{dex\, kpc^{-1}}/\Delta z$. This rate does not vary significantly with galaxy mass. We observe a weak negative correlation between gradient (negative) steepness and galaxy stellar mass at z < 2. However, when we normalize gradients by a characteristic radius defined by the galactic star formation distribution, we find that these normalized gradients do not vary significantly with either stellar mass or redshift. We place our results in the context of previous simulations and show that TNG50 high-redshift gradients are more negative than those of models featuring burstier feedback, which may further highlight high-redshift gradients as important discriminators of galaxy formation models. We also find that z = 0 and z = 0.5 TNG50 gradients are consistent with the gradientsmore »observed in galaxies at these redshifts, although the preference for flat gradients observed in redshift z ≳ 1 galaxies is not present in TNG50. If future JWST (James Webb Space Telescope) and ELT (Extremely Large Telescope) observations validate these flat gradients, it may indicate a need for simulation models to implement more powerful radial gas mixing within the ISM (interstellar medium), possibly via turbulence and/or stronger winds.« less
  7. null (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT We investigate thin and thick stellar disc formation in Milky Way-mass galaxies using 12 FIRE-2 cosmological zoom-in simulations. All simulated galaxies experience an early period of bursty star formation that transitions to a late-time steady phase of near-constant star formation. Stars formed during the late-time steady phase have more circular orbits and thin-disc-like morphology at z = 0, while stars born during the bursty phase have more radial orbits and thick-disc structure. The median age of thick-disc stars at z = 0 correlates strongly with this transition time. We also find that galaxies with an earlier transition from bursty to steady star formation have a higher thin-disc fractions at z = 0. Three of our systems have minor mergers with Large Magellanic Cloud-size satellites during the thin-disc phase. These mergers trigger short starbursts but do not destroy the thin disc nor alter broad trends between the star formation transition time and thin/thick-disc properties. If our simulations are representative of the Universe, then stellar archaeological studies of the Milky Way (or M31) provide a window into past star formation modes in the Galaxy. Current age estimates of the Galactic thick disc would suggest that the Milky Way transitioned from bursty to steady phasemore »∼6.5 Gyr ago; prior to that time the Milky Way likely lacked a recognizable thin disc.« less
  8. null (Ed.)
    Abstract We present a large suite of MHD simulations of turbulent, star-forming giant molecular clouds (GMCs) with stellar feedback, extending previous work by simulating 10 different random realizations for each point in the parameter space of cloud mass and size. It is found that once the clouds disperse due to stellar feedback, both self-gravitating star clusters and unbound stars generally remain, which arise from the same underlying continuum of substructured stellar density, ie. the hierarchical cluster formation scenario. The fraction of stars that are born within gravitationally-bound star clusters is related to the overall cloud star formation efficiency set by stellar feedback, but has significant scatter due to stochastic variations in the small-scale details of the star-forming gas flow. We use our numerical results to calibrate a model for mapping the bulk properties (mass, size, and metallicity) of self-gravitating GMCs onto the star cluster populations they form, expressed statistically in terms of cloud-level distributions. Synthesizing cluster catalogues from an observed GMC catalogue in M83, we find that this model predicts initial star cluster masses and sizes that are in good agreement with observations, using only standard IMF and stellar evolution models as inputs for feedback. Within our model, the ratiomore »of the strength of gravity to stellar feedback is the key parameter setting the masses of star clusters, and of the various feedback channels direct stellar radiation (photon momentum and photoionization) is the most important on GMC scales.« less
  9. ABSTRACT We present the escape fraction of hydrogen ionizing photons (fesc) from a sample of 34 high-resolution cosmological zoom-in simulations of galaxies at z ≥ 5 in the Feedback in Realistic Environments project, post-processed with a Monte Carlo radiative transfer code for ionizing radiation. Our sample consists of 8500 haloes in Mvir ∼ 108–$10^{12}\, M_{\odot }$ (M* ∼ 104–$10^{10}\, M_{\odot }$) at z = 5–12. We find the sample average 〈fesc〉increases with halo mass for Mvir ∼ 108–$10^{9.5}\, M_{\odot }$, becomes nearly constant for 109.5–$10^{11}\, M_{\odot }$, and decreases at ${\gtrsim}10^{11}\, M_{\odot }$. Equivalently, 〈fesc〉 increases with stellar mass up to $M_{\ast }\sim 10^8\, M_{\odot }$ and decreases at higher masses. Even applying single-star stellar population synthesis models, we find a moderate 〈fesc〉 ∼ 0.2 for galaxies at $M_{\ast }\sim 10^8\, M_{\odot }$. Nearly half of the escaped ionizing photons come from stars 1–3 Myr old and the rest from stars 3–10 Myr old. Binaries only have a modest effect, boosting 〈fesc〉 by ∼25–35 per cent and the number of escaped photons by 60–80 per cent. Most leaked ionizing photons are from vigorously star-forming regions that usually contain a feedback-driven kpc-scale superbubble surrounded by a dense shell. The shell is forming stars while accelerated, so new stars formed earlier in themore »shell are already inside the shell. Young stars in the bubble and near the edge of the shell can fully ionize some low-column-density paths pre-cleared by feedback, allowing a large fraction of their ionizing photons to escape. The decrease of 〈fesc〉 at the high-mass end is due to dust attenuation, while at the low-mass end, 〈fesc〉 decreases owing to inefficient star formation and hence feedback. At fixed mass, 〈fesc〉 tends to increase with redshift. Although the absolute 〈fesc〉does not fully converge with resolution in our simulations, the mass- and redshift-dependence of 〈fesc〉 is likely robust. Our simulations produce sufficient ionizing photons for cosmic reionization.« less
  10. null (Ed.)