Journal Article

The impact of feedback on the low-redshift intergalactic medium

L. Tornatore, S. Borgani, M. Viel and V. Springel

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 402, issue 3, pages 1911-1926
Published in print March 2010 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online February 2010 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
The impact of feedback on the low-redshift intergalactic medium

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We analyse the evolution of the properties of the low-redshift intergalactic medium (IGM) using high-resolution hydrodynamic simulations that include a detailed chemical evolution model. We focus on the effects that two different forms of energy feedback, strong galactic winds driven by supernova explosion and active galactic nuclei powered by gas accretion on to super-massive black holes (BHs), have on the thermo- and chemodynamical properties of the low-redshift IGM. We find that feedback associated with winds (W) and BHs leaves distinct signatures in both the chemical and thermal history of the baryons, especially at redshift z < 3. BH feedback produces an amount of gas with temperature in the range of 105–107 K, the warm-hot intergalactic medium (WHIM), larger than that produced by the wind feedback. At z= 0, the fraction of baryons in the WHIM is about 50 per cent in the runs with BH feedback and about 40 per cent in the runs with wind feedback. The number of warm baryons (104 < T < 105 K) is instead at about the same level, ∼30 per cent, in the runs with BH and wind feedback. Also, BH feedback provides a stronger and more pristine enrichment of the WHIM. We find that the metal-mass-weighted age of WHIM enrichment at z= 0 is on average a factor of ∼1.5 smaller in the BH run than for the corresponding runs with galactic winds. We present results for the enrichment in terms of mass and metallicity distributions for the WHIM phase, both as a function of density and as a function of temperature. Finally, we compute the evolution of the relative abundances between different heavy elements, namely oxygen, carbon and iron. While both C/O and O/Fe evolve differently at high redshifts for different feedback models, their values are similar at z= 0. We also find that changing the stellar initial mass function has a smaller effect on the evolution of the above relative abundances than changing the feedback model. The sensitivity of WHIM properties on the implemented feedback scheme could be important both for discriminating between different feedback physics and for detecting the WHIM with future far-UV and X-ray telescopes.

Keywords: methods: numerical; intergalactic medium; cosmology: theory

Journal Article.  14076 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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