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How supernova explosions power galactic winds.

Creasey, P. and Theuns, Tom and Bower, R.G. (2013) 'How supernova explosions power galactic winds.', Monthly notices of the Royal Astronomical Society., 429 (3). pp. 1922-1948.


Feedback from supernovae is an essential aspect of galaxy formation. In order to improve subgrid models of feedback, we perform a series of numerical experiments to investigate how supernova explosions shape the interstellar medium (ISM) in a disc galaxy and power a galactic wind. We use the FLASH hydrodynamic code to model a simplified ISM, including gravity, hydrodynamics, radiative cooling above 104 K and star formation that reproduces the Kennicutt–Schmidt relation. By simulating a small patch of the ISM in a tall box perpendicular to the disc, we obtain subparsec resolution allowing us to resolve individual supernova events. The hot interiors of supernova explosions combine into larger bubbles that sweep-up the initially hydrostatic ISM into a dense, warm cloudy medium, enveloped by a much hotter and tenuous medium, all phases in near pressure equilibrium. The unbound hot phase develops into an outflow with wind speed increasing with distance as it accelerates from the disc. We follow the launch region of the galactic wind, where hot gas entrains and ablates warm ISM clouds leading to significantly increased mass loading of the flow, although we do not follow this material as it interacts with the galactic halo. We run a large grid of simulations in which we vary gas surface density, gas fraction and star formation rate in order to investigate the dependencies of the mass loading, β≡M˙wind/M˙⋆. In the cases with the most effective outflows, we observe β = 4; however, in other cases we find β ≪ 1. We find that outflows are more efficient in discs with lower surface densities or gas fractions. A simple model in which the warm cloudy medium is the barrier that limits the expansion of the blast wave reproduces the scaling of outflow properties with disc parameters at high star formation rates. We extend the scaling relations derived from an ISM patch to infer an effective mass loading for a galaxy with an exponential disc, finding that the mass loading depends on circular velocity as β∝V− αd with α ≈ 2.5 for a model which fits the Tully–Fisher relation. Such a scaling is often assumed in phenomenological models of galactic winds in order to reproduce the flat faint end slope of the mass function. Our normalization is in approximate agreement with observed estimates of the mass loading for the Milky Way. The scaling we find sets the investigation of galaxy winds on a new footing, providing a physically motivated subgrid description of winds that can be implemented in cosmological hydrodynamic simulations and phenomenological models.

Item Type:Article
Keywords:Hydrodynamics, Methods: numerical, Galaxies: formation, Galaxies: ISM.
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Publisher statement:This article has been accepted for publication in Monthly notices of the Royal Astronomical Society © 2013 The Authors Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Royal Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.
Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:27 June 2014
Date of first online publication:March 2013
Date first made open access:No date available

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