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    Self-interacting dark matter (SIDM) models offer one way to reconcile inconsistencies between observations and predictions from collisionless cold dark matter (CDM) models on dwarf-galaxy scales. In order to incorporate the effects of both baryonic and SIDM interactions, we study a suite of cosmological-baryonic simulations of Milky-Way (MW)-mass galaxies from the Feedback in Realistic Environments (FIRE-2) project where we vary the SIDM self-interaction cross-section σ/m. We compare the shape of the main dark matter (DM) halo at redshift z = 0 predicted by SIDM simulations (at σ/m = 0.1, 1, and 10 cm2 g−1) with CDM simulations using the same initial conditions. In the presence of baryonic feedback effects, we find that SIDM models do not produce the large differences in the inner structure of MW-mass galaxies predicted by SIDM-only models. However, we do find that the radius where the shape of the total mass distribution begins to differ from that of the stellar mass distribution is dependent on σ/m. This transition could potentially be used to set limits on the SIDM cross-section in the MW.


    Cosmic rays (CRs) are an important component in the interstellar medium, but their effect on the dynamics of the disc–halo interface (<10 kpc from the disc) is still unclear. We study the influence of CRs on the gas above the disc with high-resolution FIRE-2 cosmological simulations of late-type L⋆ galaxies at redshift z ∼ 0. We compare runs with and without CR feedback (with constant anisotropic diffusion κ∥ ∼ 3 × 1029 cm2 s−1 and streaming). Our simulations capture the relevant disc–halo interactions, including outflows, inflows, and galactic fountains. Extra-planar gas in all of the runs satisfies dynamical balance, where total pressure balances the weight of the overlying gas. While the kinetic pressure from non-uniform motion (≳1 kpc scale) dominates in the mid-plane, thermal and bulk pressures (or CR pressure if included) take over at large heights. We find that with CR feedback, (1) the warm (∼104 K) gas is slowly accelerated by CRs; (2) the hot (>5 × 105 K) gas scale height is suppressed; (3) the warm-hot (2 × 104–5 × 105 K) medium becomes the most volume-filling phase in the disc–halo interface. We develop a novel conceptual model of the near-disc gas dynamics in low-redshift L⋆ galaxies: with CRs, the disc–halo interface is filled with CR-driven warm winds and hotmore »superbubbles that are propagating into the circumgalactic medium with a small fraction falling back to the disc. Without CRs, most outflows from hot superbubbles are trapped by the existing hot halo and gravity, so typically they form galactic fountains.

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    Galaxy mergers are crucial to understanding galaxy evolution, therefore we must determine their observational signatures to select them from large IFU galaxy samples such as MUSE and SAMI. We employ 24 high-resolution idealized hydrodynamical galaxy merger simulations based on the ‘Feedback In Realistic Environment’ (FIRE-2) model to determine the observability of mergers to various configurations and stages using synthetic images and velocity maps. Our mergers cover a range of orbital configurations at fixed 1:2.5 stellar mass ratio for two gas rich spirals at low redshift. Morphological and kinematic asymmetries are computed for synthetic images and velocity maps spanning each interaction. We divide the interaction sequence into three: (1) the pair phase; (2) the merging phase; and (3) the post-coalescence phase. We correctly identify mergers between first pericentre passage and 500 Myr after coalescence using kinematic asymmetry with 66 per cent completeness, depending upon merger phase and the field of view of the observation. We detect fewer mergers in the pair phase (40 per cent) and many more in the merging and post-coalescence phases (97 per cent). We find that merger detectability decreases with field of view, except in retrograde mergers, where centrally concentrated asymmetric kinematic features enhances their detectability. Using a cut-off derived from a combinationmore »of photometric and kinematic asymmetry, we increase these detections to 89 per cent overall, 79 per cent in pairs, and close to 100 per cent in the merging and post-coalescent phases. By using this combined asymmetry cut-off we mitigate some of the effects caused by smaller fields of view subtended by massively multiplexed integral field spectroscopy programmes.

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    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 alternativemore »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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    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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  6. Abstract

    The thermal Sunyaev–Zel’dovich (tSZ) effect is a powerful tool with the potential for constraining directly the properties of the hot gas that dominates dark matter halos because it measures pressure and thus thermal energy density. Studying this hot component of the circumgalactic medium (CGM) is important because it is strongly impacted by star formation and active galactic nucleus (AGN) activity in galaxies, participating in the feedback loop that regulates star and black hole mass growth in galaxies. We study the tSZ effect across a wide halo-mass range using three cosmological hydrodynamical simulations: Illustris-TNG, EAGLE, and FIRE-2. Specifically, we present the scaling relation between the tSZ signal and halo mass and the (mass-weighted) radial profiles of gas density, temperature, and pressure for all three simulations. The analysis includes comparisons to Planck tSZ observations and to the thermal pressure profile inferred from the Atacama Cosmology Telescope (ACT) measurements. We compare these tSZ data to simulations to interpret the measurements in terms of feedback and accretion processes in the CGM. We also identify as-yet unobserved potential signatures of these processes that may be visible in future measurements, which will have the capability of measuring tSZ signals to even lower masses. We alsomore »perform internal comparisons between runs with different physical assumptions. We conclude (1) there is strong evidence for the impact of feedback atR500, but that this impact decreases by 5R500, and (2) the thermodynamic profiles of the CGM are highly dependent on the implemented model, such as cosmic-ray or AGN feedback prescriptions.

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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 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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    The concurrent growth of supermassive black holes (SMBHs) and their host galaxies remains to be fully explored, especially at high redshift. While often understood as a consequence of self-regulation via AGN feedback, it can also be explained by alternative SMBH accretion models. Here, we expand on previous work by studying the growth of SMBHs with the help of a large suite of cosmological zoom-in simulations (MassiveFIRE) that are part of the Feedback in Realistic Environments (FIRE) project. The growth of SMBHs is modelled in post-processing with different black hole accretion models, placements, and merger treatments, and validated by comparing to on-the-fly calculations. Scaling relations predicted by the gravitational torque-driven accretion (GTDA) model agree with observations at low redshift without the need for AGN feedback, in contrast to models in which the accretion rate depends strongly on SMBH mass. At high redshift, we find deviations from the local scaling relations in line with previous theoretical results. In particular, SMBHs are undermassive, presumably due to stellar feedback, but start to grow efficiently once their host galaxies reach M* ∼ 1010M⊙. We analyse and explain these findings in the context of a simple analytic model. Finally, we show that the predicted scalingmore »relations depend sensitively on the SMBH location and the efficiency of SMBH merging, particularly in low-mass systems. These findings highlight the relevance of understanding the evolution of SMBH-galaxy scaling relations to predict the rate of gravitational wave signals from SMBH mergers across cosmic history.

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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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