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  1. ABSTRACT

    We study the properties of cosmic-ray (CR) driven galactic winds from the warm interstellar medium using idealized spherically symmetric time-dependent simulations. The key ingredients in the model are radiative cooling and CR-streaming-mediated heating of the gas. Cooling and CR heating balance near the base of the wind, but this equilibrium is thermally unstable, leading to a multiphase wind with large fluctuations in density and temperature. In most of our simulations, the heating eventually overwhelms cooling, leading to a rapid increase in temperature and a thermally driven wind; the exception to this is in galaxies with the shallowest potentials, which produce nearly isothermal $T \approx 10^4\,$ K winds driven by CR pressure. Many of the time-averaged wind solutions found here have a remarkable critical point structure, with two critical points. Scaled to real galaxies, we find mass outflow rates $\dot{M}$ somewhat larger than the observed star-formation rate in low-mass galaxies, and an approximately ‘energy-like’ scaling $\dot{M} \propto v_{\rm esc}^{-2}$. The winds accelerate slowly and reach asymptotic wind speeds of only ∼0.4vesc. The total wind power is $\sim 1~{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$ of the power from supernovae, suggesting inefficient preventive CR feedback for the physical conditions modelled here. We predict significant spatially extended emission and absorption lines from 104–105.5 K gas; this may correspond to extraplanar diffuse ionized gas seen in star-forming galaxies.

     
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  2. ABSTRACT

    Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN) are believed to provide the energy that prevents runaway cooling of gas in the cores of galaxy clusters. However, how this energy is transported and thermalized throughout the Intracluster Medium (ICM) remains unclear. In recent work, we showed that streaming cosmic rays (CRs) destabilize sound waves in dilute ICM plasmas. Here, we show that CR streaming in the presence of gravity also destabilizes a pressure-balanced wave. We term this new instability the CR buoyancy instability (CRBI). In stark contrast to standard results without CRs, the pressure-balanced mode is highly compressible at short wavelengths due to CR streaming. Maximal growth rates are of order (pc/pg)β1/2ωff, where pc/pg is the ratio of CR pressure to thermal gas pressure, β is the ratio of thermal to magnetic pressure, and ωff is the free-fall frequency. The CRBI operates alongside buoyancy instabilities driven by background heat fluxes, i.e. the heat-flux-driven buoyancy instability (HBI) and the magneto-thermal instability (MTI). When the thermal mean free path lmfp is ≪ the gas scale height H, the HBI/MTI set the growth rate on large scales, while the CRBI sets the growth rate on small scales. Conversely, when lmfp ∼ H and (pc/pg)β1/2 ≳ 1, CRBI growth rates exceed HBI/MTI growth rates even on large scales. Our results suggest that CR-driven instabilities may be partially responsible for the sound waves/weak shocks and turbulence observed in galaxy clusters. CR-driven instabilities generated near radio bubbles may also play an important role redistributing AGN energy throughout clusters.

     
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  3. ABSTRACT

    As they grow, galaxies can transition from irregular/spheroidal with ‘bursty’ star formation histories (SFHs), to discy with smooth SFHs. But even in simulations, the direct physical cause of such transitions remains unclear. We therefore explore this in a large suite of numerical experiments re-running portions of cosmological simulations with widely varied physics, further validated with existing FIRE simulations. We show that gas supply, cooling/thermodynamics, star formation model, Toomre scale, galaxy dynamical times, and feedback properties do not have a direct causal effect on these transitions. Rather, both the formation of discs and cessation of bursty star formation are driven by the gravitational potential, but in different ways. Disc formation is promoted when the mass profile becomes sufficiently centrally concentrated in shape (relative to circularization radii): we show that this provides a well-defined dynamical centre, ceases to support the global ‘breathing modes’ that can persist indefinitely in less-concentrated profiles and efficiently destroy discs, promotes orbit mixing to form a coherent angular momentum, and stabilizes the disc. Smooth SF is promoted by the potential or escape velocity Vesc (not circular velocity Vc) becoming sufficiently large at the radii of star formation that cool, mass-loaded (momentum-conserving) outflows are trapped/confined near the galaxy, as opposed to escaping after bursts. We discuss the detailed physics, how these conditions arise in cosmological contexts, their relation to other correlated phenomena (e.g. inner halo virialization, vertical disc ‘settling’), and observations.

     
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  4. ABSTRACT

    Negative feedback from accreting supermassive black holes is considered crucial in suppressing star formation and quenching massive galaxies. However, several models and observations suggest that black hole feedback may have a positive effect, triggering star formation by compressing interstellar medium gas to higher densities. We investigate the dual role of black hole feedback using cosmological hydrodynamic simulations from the Feedback In Realistic Environment (FIRE) project, incorporating a novel implementation of hyper-refined accretion-disc winds. Focusing on a massive, star-forming galaxy at z ∼ 2 ($M_{\rm halo} \sim 10^{12.5}\, {\rm M}_{\odot }$), we demonstrate that strong quasar winds with a kinetic power of ∼1046 erg s−1, persisting for over 20 Myr, drive the formation of a central gas cavity and significantly reduce the surface density of star formation across the galaxy’s disc. The suppression of star formation primarily occurs by limiting the availability of gas for star formation rather than by evacuating the pre-existing star-forming gas reservoir (preventive feedback dominates over ejective feedback). Despite the overall negative impact of quasar winds, we identify several potential indicators of local positive feedback, including (1) the spatial anticorrelation between wind-dominated regions and star-forming clumps, (2) higher local star formation efficiency in compressed gas at the edge of the cavity, and (3) increased contribution of outflowing material to local star formation. Moreover, stars formed under the influence of quasar winds tend to be located at larger radial distances. Our findings suggest that both positive and negative AGN feedback can coexist within galaxies, although the local positive triggering of star formation has a minor influence on global galaxy growth.

     
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  5. ABSTRACT

    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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  6. ABSTRACT

    Feedback from accreting supermassive black holes (SMBHs) is thought to be a primary driver of quenching in massive galaxies, but how to best implement SMBH physics into galaxy formation simulations remains ambiguous. As part of the Feedback in Realistic Environments (FIRE) project, we explore the effects of different modelling choices for SMBH accretion and feedback in a suite of ∼500 cosmological zoom-in simulations across a wide range of halo mass (1010–1013 M⊙). Within the suite, we vary the numerical schemes for BH accretion and feedback, accretion efficiency, and the strength of mechanical, radiative, and cosmic ray feedback independently. We then compare the outcomes to observed galaxy scaling relations. We find several models satisfying observational constraints for which the energetics in different feedback channels are physically plausible. Interestingly, cosmic rays accelerated by SMBHs play an important role in many plausible models. However, it is non-trivial to reproduce scaling relations across halo mass, and many model variations produce qualitatively incorrect results regardless of parameter choices. The growth of stellar and BH mass are closely related: for example, overmassive BHs tend to overquench galaxies. BH mass is most strongly affected by the choice of accretion efficiency in high-mass haloes, but by feedback efficiency in low-mass haloes. The amount of star formation suppression by SMBH feedback in low-mass haloes is determined primarily by the time-integrated feedback energy. For massive galaxies, the ‘responsiveness’ of a model (how quickly and powerfully the BH responds to gas available for accretion) is an additional important factor for quenching.

     
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  7. ABSTRACT

    We present the first simulations evolving resolved spectra of cosmic rays (CRs) from MeV–TeV energies (including electrons, positrons, (anti)protons, and heavier nuclei), in live kinetic-magnetohydrodynamics galaxy simulations with star formation and feedback. We utilize new numerical methods including terms often neglected in historical models, comparing Milky Way analogues with phenomenological scattering coefficients ν to Solar-neighbourhood [Local interstellar medium (LISM)] observations (spectra, B/C, e+/e−, $\mathrm{\bar{p}}/\mathrm{p}$, 10Be/9Be, ionization, and γ-rays). We show it is possible to reproduce observations with simple single-power-law injection and scattering coefficients (scaling with rigidity R), similar to previous (non-dynamical) calculations. We also find: (1) The circumgalactic medium in realistic galaxies necessarily imposes an $\sim 10\,$ kpc CR scattering halo, influencing the required ν(R). (2) Increasing the normalization of ν(R) re-normalizes CR secondary spectra but also changes primary spectral slopes, owing to source distribution and loss effects. (3) Diffusive/turbulent reacceleration is unimportant and generally sub-dominant to gyroresonant/streaming losses, which are sub-dominant to adiabatic/convective terms dominated by $\sim 0.1-1\,$ kpc turbulent/fountain motions. (4) CR spectra vary considerably across galaxies; certain features can arise from local structure rather than transport physics. (5) Systematic variation in CR ionization rates between LISM and molecular clouds (or Galactic position) arises naturally without invoking alternative sources. (6) Abundances of CNO nuclei require most CR acceleration occurs around when reverse shocks form in SNe, not in OB wind bubbles or later Sedov–Taylor stages of SNe remnants.

     
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  8. 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 stellar 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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  9. ABSTRACT We introduce a suite of cosmological volume simulations to study the evolution of galaxies as part of the Feedback in Realistic Environments project. FIREbox, the principal simulation of the present suite, provides a representative sample of galaxies (∼1000 galaxies with $M_{\rm star}\gt 10^8\, M_\odot$ at z  = 0) at a resolution ($\Delta {}x\sim {}20\, {\rm pc}$ , $m_{\rm b}\sim {}6\times {}10^4\, M_\odot$ ) comparable to state-of-the-art galaxy zoom-in simulations. FIREbox captures the multiphase nature of the interstellar medium in a fully cosmological setting (L = 22.1 Mpc) thanks to its exceptionally high dynamic range (≳106) and the inclusion of multichannel stellar feedback. Here, we focus on validating the simulation predictions by comparing to observational data. We find that star formation rates, gas masses, and metallicities of simulated galaxies with $M_{\rm star}\lt 10^{10.5-11}\, M_\odot$ broadly agree with observations. These galaxy scaling relations extend to low masses ($M_{\rm star}\sim {}10^7\, M_\odot$ ) and follow a (broken) power-law relationship. Also reproduced are the evolution of the cosmic HI density and the HI column density distribution at z ∼ 0–5. At low z , FIREbox predicts a peak in the stellar-mass–halo-mass relation but also a higher abundance of massive galaxies and a higher cosmic star formation rate density than observed, showing that stellar feedback alone is insufficient to reproduce the properties of massive galaxies at late times. Given its high resolution and sample size, FIREbox offers a baseline prediction of galaxy formation theory in a ΛCDM Universe while also highlighting modelling challenges to be addressed in next-generation galaxy simulations. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 2, 2024
  10. Abstract We describe a public data release of the FIRE-2 cosmological zoom-in simulations of galaxy formation (available at http://flathub.flatironinstitute.org/fire ) 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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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 23, 2024