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    We investigate how cosmic rays (CRs) affect thermal and hydrostatic stability of circumgalactic (CGM) gas, in simulations with both CR streaming and diffusion. Local thermal instability can be suppressed by CR-driven entropy mode propagation, in accordance with previous analytic work. However, there is only a narrow parameter regime where this operates, before CRs overheat the background gas. As mass dropout from thermal instability causes the background density and hence plasma β ≡ Pg/PB to fall, the CGM becomes globally unstable. At the cool disc-to-hot−halo interface, a sharp drop in density boosts Alfven speeds and CR gradients, driving a transition from diffusive to streaming transport. CR forces and heating strengthen, while countervailing gravitational forces and radiative cooling weaken, resulting in a loss of both hydrostatic and thermal equilibrium. In lower β haloes, CR heating drives a hot, single-phase diffuse wind with velocities v ∝ (theat/tff)−1, which exceeds the escape velocity when theat/tff ≲ 0.4. In higher β haloes, where the Alfven Mach number is higher, CR forces drive multi-phase winds with cool, dense fountain flows and significant turbulence. These flows are CR dominated due to ‘trapping’ of CRs by weak transverse B-fields, and have the highest mass loading factors. Thus, local thermal instability can result in winds or fountain flows where either the heat or momentum input of CRs dominates.

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    Recently, cosmic rays (CRs) have emerged as a leading candidate for driving galactic winds. Small-scale processes can dramatically affect global wind properties. We run two-moment simulations of CR streaming to study how sound waves are driven unstable by phase-shifted CR forces and CR heating. We verify linear theory growth rates. As the sound waves grow non-linear, they steepen into a quasi-periodic series of propagating shocks; the density jumps at shocks create CR bottlenecks. The depth of a propagating bottleneck depends on both the density jump and its velocity; ΔPc is smaller for rapidly moving bottlenecks. A series of bottlenecks creates a CR staircase structure, which can be understood from a convex hull construction. The system reaches a steady state between growth of new perturbations, and stair mergers. CRs are decoupled at plateaus, but exert intense forces and heating at stair jumps. The absence of CR heating at plateaus leads to cooling, strong gas pressure gradients and further shocks. If bottlenecks are stationary, they can drastically modify global flows; if their propagation times are comparable to dynamical times, their effects on global momentum and energy transfer are modest. The CR acoustic instability is likely relevant in thermal interfaces between cold and hot gas, as well as galactic winds. Similar to increased opacity in radiative flows, the build-up of CR pressure due to bottlenecks can significantly increase mass outflow rates, by up to an order of magnitude. It seeds unusual forms of thermal instability, and the shocks could have distinct observational signatures, on ∼kpc scales.

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