Journal Article

Principles of supernova-driven winds

M. J. Stringer, R. G. Bower, S. Cole, C. S. Frenk and T. Theuns

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 423, issue 2, pages 1596-1609
Published in print June 2012 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online June 2012 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
Principles of supernova-driven winds

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The formation of galaxies is regulated by a balance between the supply of gas and the rate at which it is ejected. Traditional explanations of gas ejection equate the energy required to escape the galaxy or host halo to an estimate for the energy yield from supernovae. This yield is usually assumed to be a constant fraction of the total available from the supernova, or is derived from the assumption of a consistent momentum yield. By applying these ideas in the context of a cold dark matter cosmogony, we derive a first-order analytic connection between these working assumptions and the expected relationship between baryon content and galaxy circular velocity, and find that these quick predictions straddle recent observational estimates. To examine the premises behind these theories in more detail, we then explore their applicability to a set of gasdynamical simulations of idealized galaxies. We show that different premises dominate to differing degrees in the simulated outflow, depending on the mass of the system and the resolution with which it is simulated. Using this study to anticipate the emergent behaviour at arbitrarily high resolution, we motivate more comprehensive analytic model which allows for the range of velocities with which the gas may exit the system, and incorporates both momentum and energy-based constraints on the outflow. Using a trial exit velocity distribution, this is shown to be compatible with the observed baryon fractions in intermediate-mass systems, but implies that current estimates for low-mass systems cannot be solely accounted for by supernova winds under commonly held assumptions.

Keywords: supernovae: general; ISM: supernova remnants; galaxies: evolution; galaxies: formation

Journal Article.  9607 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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