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Stellar Feedback, AGN Feedback and Fluid Microphysics in Galaxy Evolution


Su, Kung-Yi (2019) Stellar Feedback, AGN Feedback and Fluid Microphysics in Galaxy Evolution. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/RQG9-NT50.


Understanding how the baryonic physics affects the formation and evolution of galaxies is one of the most critical questions in modern astronomy. Significant progress in understanding stellar feedback and modeling them explicitly in simulations have made it possible to reproduce a wide range of observed galaxy properties. However, there are still various pieces of missing physics and uncertainties in galaxies of different mass range.

In this thesis, I will explore these missing pieces in baryonic physics on top of the Feedback in Realistic Environments (FIRE) stellar feedback in the cosmological hydrodynamic zoom-in simulations (FIRE-2 suite) and isolated galaxy simulations. These high-resolution simulations with FIRE physics capture multi-phase realistic interstellar medium (ISM) with gas cooling down to 10K, and star formations in dense clumps in giant molecular clouds. They are, therefore, an ideal tool for investigating the missing pieces in baryonic physics.

In the first part of the thesis, Chapter 2, I will focus on the discrete effects of stellar feedback like individual supernovae, hypernovae, and initial mass function (IMF) sampling in dwarfs (109-1010 M). These discrete processes of stellar feedback can have maximum effects on the small galaxies without being averaged out. I will show that the discretization of supernovae (SNe) is absolutely necessary, while the effects from IMF sampling and hypernovae (HNe) is not apparent, due to the strong clustering nature of star formation.

In the second part of the thesis, Chapter 3-4, I will focus on fluid microphysics, exploring their effects on galaxy properties and their interplay with stellar feedback in sub-L* galaxies. I will demonstrate that, once the stellar feedback is explicitly implemented as FIRE stellar feedback model, fluid microphysics such as magnetic fields, conduction, and viscosity only have minor effects on the galaxy properties like star formation rate (SFR), phase structure, or outflows. Stellar feedback also strongly alters the amplifications and morphology of the magnetic fields, resulting in much more randomly-oriented field lines. However, despite the stellar feedback, the amplification of magnetic fields in ISM gas is primarily dominated by flux-freezing compression.

In the final part of my thesis, I focus on the massive cluster ellipticals of 1012-1014 M, where the physical mechanisms that regulate the observation-inferred cooling flows are highly uncertain -- the classic "cooling flow problem". I showed that solutions in the literature not associated with an active galactic nucleus (AGN), including stellar feedback, the cosmic ray from stellar feedback, magnetic fields, conduction, and morphological quenching, cannot possibly quench the galaxies, mostly because of the insufficient energy and the limited size of the affected region. After ruling out the non-AGN feedback solutions to the cooling flow problem, I will go into the most accessible, and perhaps promising solution: "AGN feedback", exploring the generic classes of AGN feedback models proposed in the literature. I am going to show that enhancing turbulence and injecting cosmic ray are probably the most important aspects of AGN feedback in galaxy quenching. Since they provide non-thermal pressure support that stably suppresses the core density, they can stably reduce the cooling flows without overheating the galactic cores.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:MHD; conduction; cosmic rays; turbulence; Galaxy: evolution; ISM: jets and outflows, ISM: structure; galaxies: clusters: intra-cluster medium; X-rays: galaxies: clusters
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy
Major Option:Physics
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Hopkins, Philip F.
Group:TAPIR, Astronomy Department
Thesis Committee:
  • Martin, D. Christopher (chair)
  • Steidel, Charles C.
  • Kirby, Evan N.
  • Hopkins, Philip F.
Defense Date:23 May 2019
Non-Caltech Author Email:kungyisu (AT)
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:05142019-161824896
Persistent URL:
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription adapted for Chapter 2. adapted for Chapter 3. adapted for Chapter 4. adapted for Chapter 5. adapted for Chapter 6.
Su, Kung-Yi0000-0003-1598-0083
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:11518
Deposited By: Kung Yi Su
Deposited On:07 Jun 2019 22:16
Last Modified:10 Mar 2020 20:21

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