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Low-redshift Lyman limit systems as diagnostics of cosmological inflows and outflows

Hafen, Zachary and Faucher-Giguère, Claude-André and Anglés-Alcázar, Daniel and Kereš, Dušan and Feldmann, Robert and Chan, T. K. and Quataert, Eliot and Murray, Norman and Hopkins, Philip F. (2017) Low-redshift Lyman limit systems as diagnostics of cosmological inflows and outflows. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 469 (2). pp. 2292-2304. ISSN 0035-8711. doi:10.1093/mnras/stx952.

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We use cosmological hydrodynamic simulations with stellar feedback from the FIRE (Feedback In Realistic Environments) project to study the physical nature of Lyman limit systems (LLSs) at z ≤ 1. At these low redshifts, LLSs are closely associated with dense gas structures surrounding galaxies, such as galactic winds, dwarf satellites and cool inflows from the intergalactic medium. Our analysis is based on 14 zoom-in simulations covering the halo mass range M_h ≈ 10^9–10^(13) M⊙ at z = 0, which we convolve with the dark matter halo mass function to produce cosmological statistics. We find that the majority of cosmologically selected LLSs are associated with haloes in the mass range 10^(10) ≲ M_h ≲ 10^(12) M⊙. The incidence and H I column density distribution of simulated absorbers with columns in the range 10^(16.2)≤N_(HI)≤2×10^(20) Cm^(−2) are consistent with observations. High-velocity outflows (with radial velocity exceeding the halo circular velocity by a factor of ≳ 2) tend to have higher metallicities ([X/H] ∼ −0.5) while very low metallicity ([X/H] < −2) LLSs are typically associated with gas infalling from the intergalactic medium. However, most LLSs occupy an intermediate region in metallicity-radial velocity space, for which there is no clear trend between metallicity and radial kinematics. The overall simulated LLS metallicity distribution has a mean (standard deviation) [X/H] = −0.9 (0.4) and does not show significant evidence for bimodality, in contrast to recent observational studies, but consistent with LLSs arising from haloes with a broad range of masses and metallicities.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Paper
Hafen, Zachary0000-0001-7326-1736
Faucher-Giguère, Claude-André0000-0002-4900-6628
Anglés-Alcázar, Daniel0000-0001-5769-4945
Kereš, Dušan0000-0002-1666-7067
Feldmann, Robert0000-0002-1109-1919
Chan, T. K.0000-0003-2544-054X
Quataert, Eliot0000-0001-9185-5044
Hopkins, Philip F.0000-0003-3729-1684
Additional Information:© 2017 The Authors. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society. Accepted 2017 April 14. Received 2017 March 27; in original form 2016 August 19. Published: 21 April 2017. The authors are grateful to Nicolas Lehner, Chris Wotta, Chris Howk, J. X. Prochaska, Cameron Liang, Joop Schaye and Andrey Kravtsov for discussions regarding the observed Lyman limit system metallicity bimodality. We are also grateful to Benedikt Diemer for providing a set of PYTHON cosmology modules used in this work. ZH, CAFG and DAA were supported by NSF through grants AST-1412836, AST-1517491 and DGE-0948017, by NASA through grant NNX15AB22G, and by STScI through grants HST-AR-14293.001-A and HST-GO-14268.022-A. DK and TKC were supported in part by NSF grant AST-1412153 and Cottrell Scholar Award from the Research Corporation for Science Advancement. Support for PFH was provided by an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship, NASA ATP grant NNX14AH35G, and NSF grants AST-1411920 and AST-1455342. EQ was supported by NASA ATP grant 12-ATP-120183, a Simons Investigator award from the Simons Foundation and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. The simulations analysed in this paper were run on XSEDE computational resources (allocations TG-AST120025, TG-AST130039, and TG-AST140023), on the NASA Pleiades cluster (allocation SMD-14-5189), on the Northwestern Quest computer cluster, and on the Caltech Zwicky computer cluster.
Group:TAPIR, Astronomy Department
Funding AgencyGrant Number
NSF Graduate Research FellowshipDGE-0948017
Cottrell Scholar of Research CorporationUNSPECIFIED
Alfred P. Sloan FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Simons FoundationUNSPECIFIED
David and Lucile Packard FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:galaxies: evolution – galaxies: formation – galaxies: haloes – intergalactic medium – quasars: absorption lines – cosmology: theory
Issue or Number:2
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20170828-142126693
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Zachary Hafen, Claude-André Faucher-Giguère, Daniel Anglés-Alcázar, Dušan Kereš, Robert Feldmann, T. K. Chan, Eliot Quataert, Norman Murray, Philip F. Hopkins; Low-redshift Lyman limit systems as diagnostics of cosmological inflows and outflows, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 469, Issue 2, 1 August 2017, Pages 2292–2304,
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:80859
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:28 Aug 2017 21:35
Last Modified:15 Nov 2021 19:39

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