A small-scale dynamo in feedback-dominated galaxies - III. Cosmological simulations

Michael Rieder, Romain Teyssier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Magnetic fields are widely observed in the Universe in virtually all astrophysical objects, from individual stars to entire galaxies, even in the intergalactic medium, but their specific genesis has long been debated. Due to the development of more realistic models of galaxy formation, viable scenarios are emerging to explain cosmic magnetism, thanks to both deeper observations and more efficient and accurate computer simulations. We present here a new cosmological high-resolution zoom-in magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) simulation, using the adaptive mesh refinement technique, of a dwarf galaxy with an initially weak and uniform magnetic seed field that is amplified by a small-scale dynamo (SSD) driven by supernova-induced turbulence. As first structures form from the gravitational collapse of small density fluctuations, the frozen-in magnetic field separates from the cosmic expansion and grows through compression. In a second step, star formation sets in and establishes a strong galactic fountain, self-regulated by supernova explosions. Inside the galaxy, the interstellar medium becomes highly turbulent, dominated by strong supersonic shocks, as demonstrated by the spectral analysis of the gas kinetic energy. In this turbulent environment, the magnetic field is quickly amplified via a SSD process and is finally carried out into the circumgalactic medium by a galactic wind. This realistic cosmological simulation explains how initially weak magnetic seed fields can be amplified quickly in early, feedback-dominated galaxies, and predicts, as a consequence of the SSD process, that high-redshift magnetic fields are likely to be dominated by their small-scale components.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4368-4373
Number of pages6
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Early universe
  • Galaxies: magnetic fields
  • MHD
  • Methods: numerical
  • Turbulence


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