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  1. ABSTRACT

    We characterize the 3D spatial variations of [Fe/H], [Mg/H], and [Mg/Fe] in stars at the time of their formation, across 11 simulated Milky Way (MW)- and M31-mass galaxies in the FIRE-2 simulations, to inform initial conditions for chemical tagging. The overall scatter in [Fe/H] within a galaxy decreased with time until $\approx 7 \, \rm {Gyr}$ ago, after which it increased to today: this arises from a competition between a reduction of azimuthal scatter and a steepening of the radial gradient in abundance over time. The radial gradient is generally negative, and it steepened over time from an initially flat gradient $\gtrsim 12 \, \rm {Gyr}$ ago. The strength of the present-day abundance gradient does not correlate with when the disc ‘settled’; instead, it best correlates with the radial velocity dispersion within the galaxy. The strength of azimuthal variation is nearly independent of radius, and the 360 deg scatter decreased over time, from $\lesssim 0.17 \, \rm {dex}$ at $t_{\rm lb} = 11.6 \, \rm {Gyr}$ to $\sim 0.04 \, \rm {dex}$ at present-day. Consequently, stars at $t_{\rm lb} \gtrsim 8 \, \rm {Gyr}$ formed in a disc with primarily azimuthal scatter in abundances. All stars formed in amore »vertically homogeneous disc, Δ[Fe/H]$\le 0.02 \, \rm {dex}$ within $1 \, \rm {kpc}$ of the galactic mid-plane, with the exception of the young stars in the inner $\approx 4 \, \rm {kpc}$ at z ∼ 0. These results generally agree with our previous analysis of gas-phase elemental abundances, which reinforces the importance of cosmological disc evolution and azimuthal scatter in the context of stellar chemical tagging. We provide analytic fits to our results for use in chemical-tagging analyses.

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  2. ABSTRACT

    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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  3. ABSTRACT

    We use FIRE-2 zoom cosmological simulations of Milky Way size Galaxy haloes to calculate astrophysical J-factors for dark matter annihilation and indirect detection studies. In addition to velocity-independent (s-wave) annihilation cross-sections 〈σv〉, we also calculate effective J-factors for velocity-dependent models, where the annihilation cross-section is either p-wave (∝ v2/c2) or d-wave (∝ v4/c4). We use 12 pairs of simulations, each run with dark matter-only (DMO) physics and FIRE-2 physics. We observe FIRE runs produce central dark matter velocity dispersions that are systematically larger than in DMO runs by factors of ∼2.5–4. They also have a larger range of central (∼400 pc) dark matter densities than the DMO runs (ρFIRE/ρDMO ≃ 0.5–3) owing to the competing effects of baryonic contraction and feedback. At 3 deg from the Galactic Centre, FIRE J-factors are 3–60 (p-wave) and 10–500 (d-wave) times higher than in the DMO runs. The change in s-wave signal at 3 deg is more modest and can be higher or lower (∼0.3–7), though the shape of the emission profile is flatter (less peaked towards the Galactic Centre) and more circular on the sky in FIRE runs. Our results for s-wave are broadly consistent with the range of assumptions in most indirect detection studies. We observemore »p-wave J-factors that are significantly enhanced compared to most past estimates. We find that thermal models with p-wave annihilation may be within range of detection in the near future.

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  4. Abstract

    New mass estimates and cumulative mass profiles with Bayesian credible regions for the Milky Way (MW) are found using the Galactic Mass Estimator (GME) code and dwarf galaxy (DG) kinematic data from multiple sources. GME takes a hierarchical Bayesian approach to simultaneously estimate the true positions and velocities of the DGs, their velocity anisotropy, and the model parameters for the Galaxy’s total gravitational potential. In this study, we incorporate meaningful prior information from past studies and simulations. The prior distributions for the physical model are informed by the results of Eadie & Jurić, who used globular clusters instead of DGs, as well as by the subhalo distributions of the Ananke Gaia-like surveys from Feedback in Realistic Environments-2 cosmological simulations (see Sanderson et al.). Using DGs beyond 45 kpc, we report median and 95% credible region estimates forr200= 212.8 (191.12, 238.44) kpc, and for the total enclosed massM200= 1.19 (0.87, 1.68) × 1012M(adopting Δc= 200). Median mass estimates at specific radii are also reported (e.g.,M(< 50 kpc) = 0.52 × 1012MandM(100 kpc) = 0.78 × 1012M). Estimates are comparable to other recent studies using Gaia DR2 and DGs, but notably different from the estimates of Eadie & Jurić. We performmore »a sensitivity analysis to investigate whether individual DGs and/or a more massive Large Magellanic Cloud on the order of 1011Mmay be affecting our mass estimates. We find possible supporting evidence for the idea that some DGs are affected by a massive LMC and are not in equilibrium with the MW.

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  5. ABSTRACT

    Observations indicate that a continuous supply of gas is needed to maintain observed star formation rates in large, discy galaxies. To fuel star formation, gas must reach the inner regions of such galaxies. Despite its crucial importance for galaxy evolution, how and where gas joins galaxies is poorly constrained observationally and rarely explored in fully cosmological simulations. To investigate gas accretion in the vicinity of galaxies at low redshift, we analyse the FIRE-2 cosmological zoom-in simulations for 4 Milky Way mass galaxies (Mhalo ∼ 1012M⊙), focusing on simulations with cosmic ray physics. We find that at z ∼ 0, gas approaches the disc with angular momentum similar to the gaseous disc edge and low radial velocities, piling-up near the edge and settling into full rotational support. Accreting gas moves predominately parallel to the disc and joins largely in the outskirts. Immediately prior to joining the disc, trajectories briefly become more vertical on average. Within the disc, gas motion is complex, being dominated by spiral arm induced oscillations and feedback. However, time and azimuthal averages show slow net radial infall with transport speeds of 1–3 km s−1 and net mass fluxes through the disc of ∼M⊙ yr−1, comparable to the galaxies’ starmore »formation rates and decreasing towards galactic centre as gas is sunk into star formation. These rates are slightly higher in simulations without cosmic rays (1–7 km s−1, ∼4–5 M⊙ yr−1). We find overall consistency of our results with observational constraints and discuss prospects of future observations of gas flows in and around galaxies.

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  6. Abstract Type Ia supernovae are critical for feedback and elemental enrichment in galaxies. Recent surveys like the All-Sky Automated Survey for Supernova (ASAS-SN) and the Dark Energy Survey (DES) find that the specific supernova Ia rate at z ∼ 0 may be ≲ 20 − 50 × higher in lower-mass galaxies than at Milky Way-mass. Independently, observations show that the close-binary fraction of solar-type Milky Way stars is higher at lower metallicity. Motivated by these observations, we use the FIRE-2 cosmological zoom-in simulations to explore the impact of metallicity-dependent rate models on galaxies of $M_* \sim 10^7\, \rm {M}_{\odot }-10^{11}\, \rm {M}_{\odot }$. First, we benchmark our simulated star-formation histories (SFHs) against observations, and show that assumed stellar mass functions play a major role in determining the degree of tension between observations and metallicity-independent rate models, potentially causing ASAS-SN and DES observations to agree more than might appear. Models in which the supernova Ia rate increases with decreasing metallicity ($\propto Z^{-0.5 \; \rm {to} \; -1}$) provide significantly better agreement with observations. Encouragingly, these rate increases (≳ 10 × in low-mass galaxies) do not significantly impact galaxy masses and morphologies, which remain largely unaffected except for our most extreme models.more »We explore implications for both [Fe/H] and [$\alpha /\rm {Fe}$] enrichment; metallicity-dependent rate models can improve agreement with the observed stellar mass-metallicity relations in low-mass galaxies. Our results demonstrate that a range of metallicity-dependent rate models are viable for galaxy formation and motivate future work.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 10, 2023
  7. Abstract In the era of large-scale spectroscopic surveys in the Local Group, we can explore using chemical abundances of halo stars to study the star formation and chemical enrichment histories of the dwarf galaxy progenitors of the Milky Way (MW) and M31 stellar halos. In this paper, we investigate using the chemical abundance ratio distributions (CARDs) of seven stellar halos from the Latte suite of FIRE-2 simulations. We attempt to infer galaxies’ assembly histories by modeling the CARDs of the stellar halos of the Latte galaxies as a linear combination of template CARDs from disrupted dwarfs, with different stellar masses M ⋆ and quenching times t 100 . We present a method for constructing these templates using present-day dwarf galaxies. For four of the seven Latte halos studied in this work, we recover the mass spectrum of accreted dwarfs to a precision of <10%. For the fraction of mass accreted as a function of t 100 , we find the residuals of 20%–30% for five of the seven simulations. We discuss the failure modes of this method, which arise from the diversity of star formation and chemical enrichment histories that dwarf galaxies can take. These failure cases can be robustlymore »identified by the high model residuals. Although the CARDs modeling method does not successfully infer the assembly histories in these cases, the CARDs of these disrupted dwarfs contain signatures of their unusual formation histories. Our results are promising for using CARDs to learn more about the histories of the progenitors of the MW and M31 stellar halos.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2023
  8. ABSTRACT In the currently favoured cosmological paradigm galaxies form hierarchically through the accretion of satellites. Since a satellite is less massive than the host, its stars occupy a smaller volume in action space. Actions are conserved when the potential of the host halo changes adiabatically, so stars from an accreted satellite would remain clustered in action space as the host evolves. In this paper, we identify recently disrupted accreted satellites in three Milky Way-like disc galaxies from the cosmological baryonic FIRE-2 simulations by tracking satellites through simulation snapshots. We try to recover these satellites by applying the cluster analysis algorithm Enlink to the orbital actions of accreted star particles in the z = 0 snapshot. Even with completely error-free mock data we find that only 35 per cent (14/39) satellites are well recovered while the rest (25/39) are poorly recovered (i.e. either contaminated or split up). Most (10/14 ∼70 per cent) of the well-recovered satellites have infall times <7.1 Gyr ago and total mass >4 × 108M⊙ (stellar mass more than 1.2 × 106 M⊙, although our upper mass limit is likely to be resolution dependent). Since cosmological simulations predict that stellar haloes include a population of in situ stars, we test our ability to recover satellites when the datamore »include 10–50 per cent in situ contamination. We find that most previously well-recovered satellites stay well recovered even with 50 per cent contamination. With the wealth of 6D phase space data becoming available we expect that cluster analysis in action space will be useful in identifying the majority of recently accreted and moderately massive satellites in the Milky Way.« less
  9. ABSTRACT We characterize mass, momentum, energy, and metal outflow rates of multiphase galactic winds in a suite of FIRE-2 cosmological ‘zoom-in’ simulations from the Feedback in Realistic Environments (FIRE) project. We analyse simulations of low-mass dwarfs, intermediate-mass dwarfs, Milky Way-mass haloes, and high-redshift massive haloes. Consistent with previous work, we find that dwarfs eject about 100 times more gas from their interstellar medium (ISM) than they form in stars, while this mass ‘loading factor’ drops below one in massive galaxies. Most of the mass is carried by the hot phase (>105 K) in massive haloes and the warm phase (103−105 K) in dwarfs; cold outflows (<103 K) are negligible except in high-redshift dwarfs. Energy, momentum, and metal loading factors from the ISM are of order unity in dwarfs and significantly lower in more massive haloes. Hot outflows have 2−5 × higher specific energy than needed to escape from the gravitational potential of dwarf haloes; indeed, in dwarfs, the mass, momentum, and metal outflow rates increase with radius whereas energy is roughly conserved, indicating swept up halo gas. Burst-averaged mass loading factors tend to be larger during more powerful star formation episodes and when the inner halo is not virialized, but we seemore »effectively no trend with the dense ISM gas fraction. We discuss how our results can guide future controlled numerical experiments that aim to elucidate the key parameters governing galactic winds and the resulting associated preventative feedback.« less