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  1. ABSTRACT

    We study a suite of extremely high-resolution cosmological Feedback in Realistic Environments simulations of dwarf galaxies ($M_{\rm halo} \lesssim 10^{10}\rm \, M_{\odot }$), run to z = 0 with $30\, \mathrm{M}_{\odot }$ resolution, sufficient (for the first time) to resolve the internal structure of individual supernovae remnants within the cooling radius. Every halo with $M_{\rm halo} \gtrsim 10^{8.6}\, \mathrm{M}_{\odot }$ is populated by a resolved stellar galaxy, suggesting very low-mass dwarfs may be ubiquitous in the field. Our ultra-faint dwarfs (UFDs; $M_{\ast }\lt 10^{5}\, \mathrm{M}_{\odot }$) have their star formation (SF) truncated early (z ≳ 2), likely by reionization, while classical dwarfs ($M_{\ast }\gt 10^{5}\, \mathrm{M}_{\odot }$) continue forming stars to z < 0.5. The systems have bursty star formation histories, forming most of their stars in periods of elevated SF strongly clustered in both space and time. This allows our dwarf with M*/Mhalo > 10−4 to form a dark matter core ${\gt}200\rm \, pc$, while lower mass UFDs exhibit cusps down to ${\lesssim}100\rm \, pc$, as expected from energetic arguments. Our dwarfs with $M_{\ast }\gt 10^{4}\, \mathrm{M}_{\odot }$ have half-mass radii (R1/2) in agreement with Local Group (LG) dwarfs (dynamical mass versus R1/2 and stellar rotation also resemble observations).more »The lowest mass UFDs are below surface brightness limits of current surveys but are potentially visible in next-generation surveys (e.g. LSST). The stellar metallicities are lower than in LG dwarfs; this may reflect pre-enrichment of the LG by the massive hosts or Pop-III stars. Consistency with lower resolution studies implies that our simulations are numerically robust (for a given physical model).

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  2. null (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT We study the impact of cosmic rays (CRs) on the structure of virial shocks, using a large suite of high-resolution cosmological FIRE-2 simulations accounting for CR injection by supernovae. In Milky Way-mass, low-redshift (z ≲ 1−2) haloes, which are expected to form ‘hot haloes’ with slowly cooling gas in quasi-hydrostatic equilibrium (with a stable virial shock), our simulations without CRs do exhibit clear virial shocks. The cooler phase condensing out from inflows becomes pressure confined to overdense clumps, embedded in low-density, volume-filling hot gas with volume-weighted cooling time longer than inflow time. The gas thus transitions sharply from cool free-falling inflow, to hot and thermal-pressure supported at approximately the virial radius (≈Rvir), and the shock is quasi-spherical. With CRs, we previously argued that haloes in this particular mass and redshift range build up CR-pressure-dominated gaseous haloes. Here, we show that when CR pressure dominates over thermal pressure, there is no significant virial shock. Instead, inflowing gas is gradually decelerated by the CR pressure gradient and the gas is relatively subsonic out to and even beyond Rvir. Rapid cooling also maintains subvirial temperatures in the inflowing gas within ∼Rvir.
  3. ABSTRACT Observations of ultraviolet (UV) metal absorption lines have provided insight into the structure and composition of the circumgalactic medium (CGM) around galaxies. We compare these observations with the low-redshift (z ≤ 0.3) CGM around dwarf galaxies in high-resolution cosmological zoom-in runs in the FIRE-2 (Feedback In Realistic Environments) simulation suite. We select simulated galaxies that match the halo mass, stellar mass, and redshift of the observed samples. We produce absorption measurements using trident for UV transitions of C iv, O vi, Mg ii, and Si iii. The FIRE equivalent width (EW) distributions and covering fractions for the C iv ion are broadly consistent with observations inside 0.5Rvir, but are underpredicted for O vi, Mg ii, and Si iii. The absorption strengths of the ions in the CGM are moderately correlated with the masses and star formation activity of the galaxies. The correlation strengths increase with the ionization potential of the ions. The structure and composition of the gas from the simulations exhibit three zones around dwarf galaxies characterized by distinct ion column densities: the discy interstellar medium, the inner CGM (the wind-dominated regime), and the outer CGM (the IGM accretion-dominated regime). We find that the outer CGM in the simulations is nearly but not quite supported bymore »thermal pressure, so it is not in hydrostatic equilibrium, resulting in halo-scale bulk inflow and outflow motions. The net gas inflow rates are comparable to the star formation rate of the galaxy, but the bulk inflow and outflow rates are greater by an order of magnitude, with velocities comparable to the virial velocity of the halo. These roughly virial velocities (${\sim } 100 \, \rm km\, s^{-1}$) produce large EWs in the simulations. This supports a picture for dwarf galaxies in which the dynamics of the CGM at large scales are coupled to the small-scale star formation activity near the centre of their haloes.« less
  4. ABSTRACT We present new measurements of the spatial distribution and kinematics of neutral hydrogen in the circumgalactic and intergalactic medium surrounding star-forming galaxies at z ∼ 2. Using the spectra of ≃3000 galaxies with redshifts 〈z〉 = 2.3 ± 0.4 from the Keck Baryonic Structure Survey, we assemble a sample of more than 200 000 distinct foreground-background pairs with projected angular separations of 3–500 arcsec and spectroscopic redshifts, with 〈zfg〉 = 2.23 and 〈zbg〉 = 2.57 (foreground, background redshifts, respectively.) The ensemble of sightlines and foreground galaxies is used to construct a 2D map of the mean excess $\rm{H\,{\small I}}$$\rm Ly\,\alpha$ optical depth relative to the intergalactic mean as a function of projected galactocentric distance (20 ≲ Dtran/pkpc ≲ 4000) and line-of-sight velocity. We obtain accurate galaxy systemic redshifts, providing significant information on the line-of-sight kinematics of $\rm{H\,{\small I}}$ gas as a function of projected distance Dtran. We compare the map with cosmological zoom-in simulation, finding qualitative agreement between them. A simple two-component (accretion, outflow) analytical model generally reproduces the observed line-of-sight kinematics and projected spatial distribution of $\rm{H\,{\small I}}$. The best-fitting model suggests that galaxy-scale outflows with initial velocity vout ≃ 600 km s$^{-1}\,$ dominate the kinematics of circumgalactic $\rm{H\,{\small I}}$ out to Dtran ≃ 50 kpc, whilemore »$\rm{H\,{\small I}}$ at Dtran ≳ 100 kpc is dominated by infall with characteristic vin ≲ circular velocity. Over the impact parameter range 80 ≲ Dtran/pkpc ≲ 200, the $\rm{H\,{\small I}}$ line-of-sight velocity range reaches a minimum, with a corresponding flattening in the rest-frame $\rm Ly\,\alpha$ equivalent width. These observations can be naturally explained as the transition between outflow-dominated and accretion-dominated flows. Beyond Dtran ≃ 300 pkpc (∼1 cMpc), the line-of-sight kinematics are dominated by Hubble expansion.« less
  5. ABSTRACT We present models of CO(1–0) emission from Milky-Way-mass galaxies at redshift zero in the FIRE-2 cosmological zoom-in simulations. We calculate the molecular abundances by post-processing the simulations with an equilibrium chemistry solver while accounting for the effects of local sources, and determine the emergent CO(1–0) emission using a line radiative transfer code. We find that the results depend strongly on the shielding length assumed, which, in our models, sets the attenuation of the incident UV radiation field. At the resolution of these simulations, commonly used choices for the shielding length, such as the Jeans length, result in CO abundances that are too high at a given H2 abundance. We find that a model with a distribution of shielding lengths, which has a median shielding length of ∼3 pc in cold gas (T < 300 K) for both CO and H2, is able to reproduce both the observed CO(1–0) luminosity and inferred CO-to-H2 conversion factor at a given star formation rate compared with observations. We suggest that this short shielding length can be thought of as a subgrid model, which controls the amount of radiation that penetrates giant molecular clouds.
  6. ABSTRACT Advances in instrumentation have recently extended detailed measurements of gas kinematics to large samples of high-redshift galaxies. Relative to most nearby, thin disc galaxies, in which gas rotation accurately traces the gravitational potential, the interstellar medium (ISM) of $z$ ≳ 1 galaxies is typically more dynamic and exhibits elevated turbulence. If not properly modelled, these effects can strongly bias dynamical mass measurements. We use high-resolution FIRE-2 cosmological zoom-in simulations to analyse the physical effects that must be considered to correctly infer dynamical masses from gas kinematics. Our analysis covers a range of galaxy properties from low-redshift Milky-Way-mass galaxies to massive high-redshift galaxies (M⋆ > 1011 M⊙ at $z$ = 1). Selecting only snapshots where a disc is present, we calculate the rotational profile $\bar{v}_\phi (r)$ of the cool ($10^{3.5}\,\lt {\it T}\lt 10^{4.5}~\rm {K}$) gas and compare it to the circular velocity $v_{\rm c}=\sqrt{GM_{\rm enc}/r}$. In the simulated galaxies, the gas rotation traces the circular velocity at intermediate radii, but the two quantities diverge significantly in the centre and in the outer disc. Our simulations appear to over-predict observed rotational velocities in the centres of massive galaxies (likely from a lack of black hole feedback), so we focus on largermore »radii. Gradients in the turbulent pressure at these radii can provide additional radial support and bias dynamical mass measurements low by up to 40 per cent. In both the interior and exterior, the gas’ motion can be significantly non-circular due to e.g. bars, satellites, and inflows/outflows. We discuss the accuracy of commonly used analytic models for pressure gradients (or ‘asymmetric drift’) in the ISM of high-redshift galaxies.« less
  7. ABSTRACT We analyse the cold dark matter density profiles of 54 galaxy haloes simulated with Feedback In Realistic Environments (FIRE)-2 galaxy formation physics, each resolved within $0.5{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$ of the halo virial radius. These haloes contain galaxies with masses that range from ultrafaint dwarfs ($M_\star \simeq 10^{4.5}\, \mathrm{M}_{\odot }$) to the largest spirals ($M_\star \simeq 10^{11}\, \mathrm{M}_{\odot }$) and have density profiles that are both cored and cuspy. We characterize our results using a new, analytic density profile that extends the standard two-parameter Einasto form to allow for a pronounced constant density core in the resolved innermost radius. With one additional core-radius parameter, rc, this three-parameter core-Einasto profile is able to characterize our feedback-impacted dark matter haloes more accurately than other three-parameter profiles proposed in the literature. To enable comparisons with observations, we provide fitting functions for rc and other profile parameters as a function of both M⋆ and M⋆/Mhalo. In agreement with past studies, we find that dark matter core formation is most efficient at the characteristic stellar-to-halo mass ratio M⋆/Mhalo ≃ 5 × 10−3, or $M_{\star } \sim 10^9 \, \mathrm{M}_{\odot }$, with cores that are roughly the size of the galaxy half-light radius, rc ≃ 1−5 kpc. Furthermore,more »we find no evidence for core formation at radii $\gtrsim 100\ \rm pc$ in galaxies with M⋆/Mhalo < 5 × 10−4 or $M_\star \lesssim 10^6 \, \mathrm{M}_{\odot }$. For Milky Way-size galaxies, baryonic contraction often makes haloes significantly more concentrated and dense at the stellar half-light radius than DMO runs. However, even at the Milky Way scale, FIRE-2 galaxy formation still produces small dark matter cores of ≃ 0.5−2 kpc in size. Recent evidence for a ∼2 kpc core in the Milky Way’s dark matter halo is consistent with this expectation.« less
  8. ABSTRACT We investigate the impact of cosmic rays (CRs) on the circumgalactic medium (CGM) in FIRE-2 simulations, for ultra-faint dwarf through Milky Way (MW)-mass haloes hosting star-forming (SF) galaxies. Our CR treatment includes injection by supernovae, anisotropic streaming and diffusion along magnetic field lines, and collisional and streaming losses, with constant parallel diffusivity $\kappa \sim 3\times 10^{29}\, \mathrm{cm^2\ s^{-1}}$ chosen to match γ-ray observations. With this, CRs become more important at larger halo masses and lower redshifts, and dominate the pressure in the CGM in MW-mass haloes at z ≲ 1–2. The gas in these ‘CR-dominated’ haloes differs significantly from runs without CRs: the gas is primarily cool (a few ${\sim}10^{4}\,$ K), and the cool phase is volume-filling and has a thermal pressure below that needed for virial or local thermal pressure balance. Ionization of the ‘low’ and ‘mid’ ions in this diffuse cool gas is dominated by photoionization, with O vi columns ${\gtrsim}10^{14.5}\, \mathrm{cm^{-2}}$ at distances ${\gtrsim}150\, \mathrm{kpc}$. CR and thermal gas pressure are locally anticorrelated, maintaining total pressure balance, and the CGM gas density profile is determined by the balance of CR pressure gradients and gravity. Neglecting CRs, the same haloes are primarily warm/hot ($T\gtrsim 10^{5}\,$K) with thermal pressure balancing gravity,more »collisional ionization dominates, O vi columns are lower and Ne viii higher, and the cool phase is confined to dense filaments in local thermal pressure equilibrium with the hot phase.« less
  9. ABSTRACT We study the spatially resolved (sub-kpc) gas velocity dispersion (σ)–star formation rate (SFR) relation in the FIRE-2 (Feedback in Realistic Environments) cosmological simulations. We specifically focus on Milky Way-mass disc galaxies at late times (z ≈ 0). In agreement with observations, we find a relatively flat relationship, with σ ≈ 15–30 km s−1 in neutral gas across 3 dex in SFRs. We show that higher dense gas fractions (ratios of dense gas to neutral gas) and SFRs are correlated at constant σ. Similarly, lower gas fractions (ratios of gas to stellar mass) are correlated with higher σ at constant SFR. The limits of the σ–ΣSFR relation correspond to the onset of strong outflows. We see evidence of ‘on-off’ cycles of star formation in the simulations, corresponding to feedback injection time-scales of 10–100 Myr, where SFRs oscillate about equilibrium SFR predictions. Finally, SFRs and velocity dispersions in the simulations agree well with feedback-regulated and marginally stable gas disc (Toomre’s Q = 1) model predictions, and the simulation data effectively rule out models assuming that gas turns into stars at (low) constant efficiency (i.e. 1 per cent per free-fall time). And although the simulation data do not entirely exclude gas accretion/gravitationally powered turbulence as a driver of σ,more »it appears to be subdominant to stellar feedback in the simulated galaxy discs at z ≈ 0.« less
  10. ABSTRACT We describe a new adaptive time-step criterion for integrating gravitational motion, which uses the tidal tensor to estimate the local dynamical time-scale and scales the time-step proportionally. This provides a better candidate for a truly general-purpose gravitational time-step criterion than the usual prescription derived from the gravitational acceleration, which does not respect the equivalence principle, breaks down when $\boldsymbol {a}=0$, and does not obey the same dimensional scaling as the true time-scale of orbital motion. We implement the tidal time-step criterion in the simulation code gizmo, and examine controlled tests of collisionless galaxy and star cluster models, as well as galaxy merger simulations. The tidal criterion estimates the dynamical time faithfully, and generally provides a more efficient time-stepping scheme compared to an acceleration criterion. Specifically, the tidal criterion achieves order-of-magnitude smaller energy errors for the same number of force evaluations in potentials with inner profiles shallower than ρ ∝ r−1 (i.e. where $\boldsymbol {a}\rightarrow 0$), such as star clusters and cored galaxies. For a given problem these advantages must be weighed against the additional overhead of computing the tidal tensor on-the-fly, but in many cases this overhead is small.