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    Stars form in dense, clustered environments, where feedback from newly formed stars eventually ejects the gas, terminating star formation and leaving behind one or more star clusters. Using the STARFORGE simulations, it is possible to simulate this process in its entirety within a molecular cloud, while explicitly evolving the gas radiation and magnetic fields and following the formation of individual, low-mass stars. We find that individual star-formation sites merge to form ever larger structures, while still accreting gas. Thus clusters are assembled through a series of mergers. During the cluster assembly process, a small fraction of stars are ejected from their clusters; we find no significant difference between the mass distribution of the ejected stellar population and that of stars inside clusters. The star-formation sites that are the building blocks of clusters start out mass segregated with one or a few massive stars at their centre. As they merge the newly formed clusters maintain this feature, causing them to have mass-segregated substructures without themselves being centrally condensed. The merged clusters relax to a centrally condensed mass-segregated configuration through dynamical interactions between their members, but this process does not finish before feedback expels the remaining gas from the cluster. Inmore »the simulated runs, the gas-free clusters then become unbound and breakup. We find that turbulent driving and a periodic cloud geometry can significantly reduce clustering and prevent gas expulsion. Meanwhile, the initial surface density and level of turbulence have little qualitative effect on cluster evolution, despite the significantly different star formation histories.

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    Recent strides have been made developing dust evolution models for galaxy formation simulations but these approaches vary in their assumptions and degree of complexity. Here, we introduce and compare two separate dust evolution models (labelled ‘Elemental’ and ‘Species’), based on recent approaches, incorporated into the gizmo code and coupled with fire-2 stellar feedback and interstellar medium physics. Both models account for turbulent dust diffusion, stellar production of dust, dust growth via gas-dust accretion, and dust destruction from time-resolved supernovae, thermal sputtering in hot gas, and astration. The ‘Elemental’ model tracks the evolution of generalized dust species and utilizes a simple, ‘tunable’ dust growth routine, while the ‘Species’ model tracks the evolution of specific dust species with set chemical compositions and incorporates a physically motivated, two-phase dust growth routine. We test and compare these models in an idealized Milky Way-mass galaxy and find that while both produce reasonable galaxy-integrated dust-to-metals (D/Z) ratios and predict gas-dust accretion as the main dust growth mechanism, a chemically motivated model is needed to reproduce the observed scaling relation between individual element depletions and D/Z with column density and local gas density. We also find the inclusion of theoretical metallic iron and O-bearing dust speciesmore »are needed in the case of specific dust species in order to match observations of O and Fe depletions, and the integration of a sub-resolution dense molecular gas/CO scheme is needed to both match observed C depletions and ensure carbonaceous dust is not overproduced in dense environments.

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    We use FIRE simulations to study disc formation in z ∼ 0, Milky Way-mass galaxies, and conclude that a key ingredient for the formation of thin stellar discs is the ability for accreting gas to develop an aligned angular momentum distribution via internal cancellation prior to joining the galaxy. Among galaxies with a high fraction ($\gt 70{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$) of their young stars in a thin disc (h/R ∼ 0.1), we find that: (i) hot, virial-temperature gas dominates the inflowing gas mass on halo scales (≳20 kpc), with radiative losses offset by compression heating; (ii) this hot accretion proceeds until angular momentum support slows inward motion, at which point the gas cools to $\lesssim 10^4\, {\rm K}$; (iii) prior to cooling, the accreting gas develops an angular momentum distribution that is aligned with the galaxy disc, and while cooling transitions from a quasi-spherical spatial configuration to a more-flattened, disc-like configuration. We show that the existence of this ‘rotating cooling flow’ accretion mode is strongly correlated with the fraction of stars forming in a thin disc, using a sample of 17 z ∼ 0 galaxies spanning a halo mass range of 1010.5 M⊙ ≲ Mh ≲ 1012 M⊙ and stellarmore »mass range of 108 M⊙ ≲ M⋆ ≲ 1011 M⊙. Notably, galaxies with a thick disc or irregular morphology do not undergo significant angular momentum alignment of gas prior to accretion and show no correspondence between halo gas cooling and flattening. Our results suggest that rotating cooling flows (or, more generally, rotating subsonic flows) that become coherent and angular momentum-supported prior to accretion on to the galaxy are likely a necessary condition for the formation of thin, star-forming disc galaxies in a ΛCDM universe.

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    We analyse the first giant molecular cloud (GMC) simulation to follow the formation of individual stars and their feedback from jets, radiation, winds, and supernovae, using the STARFORGE framework in the GIZMO code. We evolve the GMC for $\sim 9 \rm Myr$, from initial turbulent collapse to dispersal by feedback. Protostellar jets dominate feedback momentum initially, but radiation and winds cause cloud disruption at $\sim 8{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$ star formation efficiency (SFE), and the first supernova at $8.3\, \rm Myr$ comes too late to influence star formation significantly. The per-free-fall SFE is dynamic, accelerating from 0 per cent to $\sim 18{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$ before dropping quickly to <1 per cent, but the estimate from YSO counts compresses it to a narrower range. The primary cluster forms hierarchically and condenses to a brief ($\sim 1\, \mathrm{Myr}$) compact ($\sim 1\, \rm pc$) phase, but does not virialize before the cloud disperses, and the stars end as an unbound expanding association. The initial mass function resembles the Chabrier (2005) form with a high-mass slope α = −2 and a maximum mass of 55 M⊙. Stellar accretion takes $\sim 400\, \rm kyr$ on average, but $\gtrsim 1\,\rm Myr$ for >10 M⊙ stars, so massive stars finishmore »growing latest. The fraction of stars in multiples increase as a function of primary mass, as observed. Overall, the simulation much more closely resembles reality, compared to previous versions that neglected different feedback physics entirely. But more detailed comparison with synthetic observations will be needed to constrain the theoretical uncertainties.

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    We investigate stellar elemental abundance patterns at $z$ = 0 in eight low-mass ($M_{*}=10^{6}{-}10^{9}\ \text{M}_{\odot }$) galaxies in the Feedback in Realistic Environments cosmological simulations. Using magnesium (Mg) as a representative α-element, we explore stellar abundance patterns in magnesium-to-iron ([Mg/Fe]) versus iron-to-hydrogen ([Fe/H]), which follow an overall monotonic trend that evolved slowly over time. Additionally, we explore three notable secondary features in enrichment (in three different case-study galaxies) that arise from a galaxy merger or bursty star formation. First, we observe a secondary track with a lower [Mg/Fe] than the main trend. At $z$ = 0, stars from this track are predominantly found within 2–6 kpc of the centre; they were accreted in a 1:3 total-mass-ratio merger ∼0.4 Gyr ago. Second, we find a distinct elemental bimodality that forms following a strong burst in star formation in a galaxy at $t_{\text{lookback}}\, \sim 10$ Gyr. This burst quenched star formation for ∼0.66 Gyr, allowing Type Ia supernovae to enrich the system with iron (Fe) before star formation resumed. Third, we examine stripes in enrichment that run roughly orthogonal to the dominant [Mg/Fe] versus [Fe/H] trend; these stripes correspond to short bursts of star formation during which core-collapse supernovae enrich the surrounding medium with Mg (andmore »Fe) on short time-scales. If observed, these features would substantiate the utility of elemental abundances in revealing the assembly and star-formation histories of dwarf galaxies. We explore the observability of these features for upcoming spectroscopic studies. Our results show that precise measurements of elemental abundance patterns can reveal critical events in the formation histories of low-mass galaxies.

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  6. Abstract

    We present the discovery of neutral gas detected in both damped Lyαabsorption (DLA) and Hi21 cm emission outside of the stellar body of a galaxy, the first such detection in the literature. A joint analysis between the Cosmic Ultraviolet Baryon Survey and the MeerKAT Absorption Line Survey reveals an Hibridge connecting two interacting dwarf galaxies (log (Mstar/M) = 8.5 ± 0.2) that host az= 0.026 DLA with log[N(Hi)/cm−2] = 20.60 ± 0.05 toward the QSO J2339−5523 (zQSO= 1.35). At impact parameters ofd= 6 and 33 kpc, the dwarf galaxies have no companions more luminous than ≈0.05L*within at least Δv= ±300 km s−1andd≈ 350 kpc. The Hi21 cm emission is spatially coincident with the DLA at the 2σ–3σlevel per spectral channel over several adjacent beams. However, Hi21 cm absorption is not detected against the radio-bright QSO; if the background UV and radio sources are spatially aligned, the gas is either warm or clumpy (with a spin temperature to covering factor ratioTs/fc> 1880 K). Observations with VLT-MUSE demonstrate that theα-element abundance of the ionized interstellar medium (ISM) is consistent with the DLA (≈10% solar), suggesting that the neutral gas envelope is perturbed ISM gas. This study showcases the impact of dwarf–dwarfmore »interactions on the physical and chemical state of neutral gas outside of star-forming regions. In the SKA era, joint UV and Hi21 cm analyses will be critical for connecting the cosmic neutral gas content to galaxy environments.

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    Previous studies of fueling black holes in galactic nuclei have argued (on scales ${\sim}0.01{-}1000\,$pc) accretion is dynamical with inflow rates $\dot{M}\sim \eta \, M_{\rm gas}/t_{\rm dyn}$ in terms of gas mass Mgas, dynamical time tdyn, and some η. But these models generally neglected expulsion of gas by stellar feedback, or considered extremely high densities where expulsion is inefficient. Studies of star formation, however, have shown on sub-kpc scales the expulsion efficiency fwind = Mejected/Mtotal scales with the gravitational acceleration as $(1-f_{\rm wind})/f_{\rm wind}\sim \bar{a}_{\rm grav}/\langle \dot{p}/m_{\ast }\rangle \sim \Sigma _{\rm eff}/\Sigma _{\rm crit}$ where $\bar{a}_{\rm grav}\equiv G\, M_{\rm tot}(\lt r)/r^{2}$ and $\langle \dot{p}/m_{\ast }\rangle$ is the momentum injection rate from young stars. Adopting this as the simplest correction for stellar feedback, $\eta \rightarrow \eta \, (1-f_{\rm wind})$, we show this provides a more accurate description of simulations with stellar feedback at low densities. This has immediate consequences, predicting the slope and normalization of the MBH − σ and MBH − Mbulge relation, LAGN −SFR relations, and explanations for outliers in compact Es. Most strikingly, because star formation simulations show expulsion is efficient (fwind ∼ 1) below total-mass surface density $M_{\rm tot}/\pi \, r^{2}\lt \Sigma _{\rm crit}\sim 3\times 10^{9}\, \mathrm{M}_{\odotmore »}\, {\rm kpc^{-2}}$ (where $\Sigma _{\rm crit}=\langle \dot{p}/m_{\ast }\rangle /(\pi \, G)$), BH mass is predicted to specifically trace host galaxy properties above a critical surface brightness Σcrit (B-band $\mu _{\rm B}^{\rm crit}\sim 19\, {\rm mag\, arcsec^{-2}}$). This naturally explains why BH masses preferentially reflect bulge properties or central surface densities (e.g. $\Sigma _{1\, {\rm kpc}}$), not ‘total’ galaxy properties.

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    Simulations of isolated giant molecular clouds (GMCs) are an important tool for studying the dynamics of star formation, but their turbulent initial conditions (ICs) are uncertain. Most simulations have either initialized a velocity field with a prescribed power spectrum on a smooth density field (failing to model the full structure of turbulence) or ‘stirred’ turbulence with periodic boundary conditions (which may not model real GMC boundary conditions). We develop and test a new GMC simulation setup (called turbsphere) that combines advantages of both approaches: we continuously stir an isolated cloud to model the energy cascade from larger scales, and use a static potential to confine the gas. The resulting cloud and surrounding envelope achieve a quasi-equilibrium state with the desired hallmarks of supersonic ISM turbulence (e.g. density PDF and a ∼k−2 velocity power spectrum), whose bulk properties can be tuned as desired. We use the final stirred state as initial conditions for star formation simulations with self-gravity, both with and without continued driving and protostellar jet feedback, respectively. We then disentangle the respective effects of the turbulent cascade, simulation geometry, external driving, and gravity/MHD boundary conditions on the resulting star formation. Without external driving, the new setup obtains resultsmore »similar to previous simple spherical cloud setups, but external driving can suppress star formation considerably in the new setup. Periodic box simulations with the same dimensions and turbulence parameters form stars significantly slower, highlighting the importance of boundary conditions and the presence or absence of a global collapse mode in the results of star formation calculations.

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  9. Abstract Extended, old, and round stellar halos appear to be ubiquitous around high-mass dwarf galaxies (10 8.5 < M ⋆ / M ⊙ < 10 9.6 ) in the observed universe. However, it is unlikely that these dwarfs have undergone a sufficient number of minor mergers to form stellar halos that are composed of predominantly accreted stars. Here, we demonstrate that FIRE-2 (Feedback in Realistic Environments) cosmological zoom-in simulations are capable of producing dwarf galaxies with realistic structures, including both a thick disk and round stellar halo. Crucially, these stellar halos are formed in situ, largely via the outward migration of disk stars. However, there also exists a large population of “nondisky” dwarfs in FIRE-2 that lack a well-defined disk/halo and do not resemble the observed dwarf population. These nondisky dwarfs tend to be either more gas-poor or to have burstier recent star formation histories than the disky dwarfs, suggesting that star formation feedback may be preventing disk formation. Both classes of dwarfs underscore the power of a galaxy’s intrinsic shape—which is a direct quantification of the distribution of the galaxy’s stellar content—to interrogate the feedback implementation in simulated galaxies.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 1, 2023
  10. Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 1, 2023