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Creators/Authors contains: "Ma, Xiangcheng"

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  1. Streams of intergalactic gas enriched by previous star formation were observed spiraling toward a massive galaxy. 
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    We perform cosmological hydrodynamical simulations to study the formation of proto-globular cluster candidates in progenitors of present-day dwarf galaxies $(M_{\rm vir} \approx 10^{10}\, {\rm M}_\odot$ at z = 0) as part of the ‘Feedback in Realistic Environment’ (FIRE) project. Compact (r1/2 < 30 pc), relatively massive (0.5 × 105 ≲ M⋆/M⊙ ≲ 5 × 105), self-bound stellar clusters form at 11 ≳ z ≳ 5 in progenitors with $M_{\rm vir} \approx 10^9\, \mathrm{M}_{\odot }$. Cluster formation is triggered when at least $10^7\, \mathrm{M}_{\odot }$ of dense, turbulent gas reaches $\Sigma _{\rm gas} \approx 10^4\, {\rm M}_\odot \, {\rm pc}^{-2}$ as a result of the compressive effects of supernova feedback or from cloud–cloud collisions. The clusters can survive for $2-3\, {\rm Gyr}$; absent numerical effects, they could possibly survive substantially longer, perhaps to z = 0. The longest lived clusters are those that form at significant distance – several hundreds of pc – from their host galaxy. We therefore predict that globular clusters forming in progenitors of present-day dwarf galaxies will be offset from any pre-existing stars within their host dark matter haloes as opposed to deeply embedded within a well-defined galaxy. Properties of the nascent clusters are consistent with observations of some of the faintest and most compact high-redshift sources in Hubble Space Telescope lensing fields and are at the edge of what will be detectable as point sources in deep imaging of non-lensed fields with JWST. By contrast, the star clusters’ host galaxies will remain undetectable.

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  3. 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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    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, 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.

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  5. 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. 
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  6. null (Ed.)
    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 circumgalactic 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. 
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  7. null (Ed.)
    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 is 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. 
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  8. null (Ed.)
    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 abundances 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. 
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    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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  10. 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 gradients 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. 
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