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On the deuterium abundance and the importance of stellar mass loss in the interstellar and intergalactic medium

van de Voort, Freeke and Quataert, Eliot and Faucher-Giguère, Claude-André and Kereš, Dušan and Hopkins, Philip F. and Chan, T. K. and Feldmann, Robert and Hafen, Zachary (2018) On the deuterium abundance and the importance of stellar mass loss in the interstellar and intergalactic medium. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 477 (1). pp. 80-92. ISSN 0035-8711.

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We quantify the gas-phase abundance of deuterium and fractional contribution of stellar mass loss to the gas in cosmological zoom-in simulations from the Feedback In Realistic Environments project. At low metallicity, our simulations confirm that the deuterium abundance is very close to the primordial value. The chemical evolution of the deuterium abundance that we derive here agrees quantitatively with analytical chemical evolution models. We furthermore find that the relation between the deuterium and oxygen abundance exhibits very little scatter. We compare our simulations to existing high-redshift observations in order to determine a primordial deuterium fraction of (2.549 ± 0.033) × 10^(−5) and stress that future observations at higher metallicity can also be used to constrain this value. At fixed metallicity, the deuterium fraction decreases slightly with decreasing redshift, due to the increased importance of mass-loss from intermediate-mass stars. We find that the evolution of the average deuterium fraction in a galaxy correlates with its star formation history. Our simulations are consistent with observations of the Milky Way's interstellar medium (ISM): the deuterium fraction at the solar circle is 85–92 per cent of the primordial deuterium fraction. We use our simulations to make predictions for future observations. In particular, the deuterium abundance is lower at smaller galactocentric radii and in higher mass galaxies, showing that stellar mass loss is more important for fuelling star formation in these regimes (and can even dominate). Gas accreting on to galaxies has a deuterium fraction above that of the galaxies’ ISM, but below the primordial fraction, because it is a mix of gas accreting from the intergalactic medium and gas previously ejected or stripped from galaxies.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Paper
van de Voort, Freeke0000-0002-6301-638X
Quataert, Eliot0000-0001-9185-5044
Kereš, Dušan0000-0002-1666-7067
Hopkins, Philip F.0000-0003-3729-1684
Chan, T. K.0000-0003-2544-054X
Feldmann, Robert0000-0002-1109-1919
Additional Information:© 2018 The Author(s). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society. Accepted 2018 February 28. Received 2018 February 23; in original form 2017 April 26. We would like to thank the Simons Foundation and the organizers and participants of the Simons Symposium ‘Galactic Superwinds: Beyond Phenomenology’, in particular David Weinberg, for interesting discussions and inspiration for this work. We also thank Thomas Guillet and Joop Schaye for helpful discussions and Tim Davis for useful comments on an earlier version of the manuscript. We would like to thank the referees for valuable comments that helped clarify our results and put them into context. Support for FvdV was provided by the Klaus Tschira Foundation. EQ was supported by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Astrophysics Theory Program (ATP) grant 12-APT12-0183, a Simons Investigator award from the Simons Foundation, and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. CAFG was supported by National Science Foundation (NSF) through grants AST-1412836 and AST-1517491 and by NASA through grant NNX15AB22G. DK was supported by the NSF through grant AST-1412153 and by the 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 Collaborative Research Grant #1411920 and CAREER grant #1455342. Numerical calculations were run on the Caltech compute cluster ‘Zwicky’ (NSF MRI award #PHY-0960291), through allocation TG-AST120025, TG-AST130039, and TG-AST150045 granted by the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE) supported by the NSF, and through NASA High-End Computing (HEC) allocation SMD-14-5189, SMD-14-5492, SMD-15-5950, and SMD-16-7592 provided by the NASA Advanced Supercomputing (NAS) Division at Ames Research Center.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Klaus Tschira FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Simons FoundationUNSPECIFIED
David and Lucile Packard FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Cottrell Scholar of Research CorporationUNSPECIFIED
Alfred P. Sloan FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:nuclear reactions, nucleosynthesis, abundances, stars: mass-loss, ISM: abundances, intergalactic medium, galaxies: star formation, cosmology: theory
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20180606-125451235
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Official Citation:Freeke van de Voort, Eliot Quataert, Claude-André Faucher-Giguère, Dušan Kereš, Philip F Hopkins, T K Chan, Robert Feldmann, Zachary Hafen; On the deuterium abundance and the importance of stellar mass loss in the interstellar and intergalactic medium, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 477, Issue 1, 11 June 2018, Pages 80–92,
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:86846
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:06 Jun 2018 20:29
Last Modified:06 Jun 2018 20:29

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