Clustered supernovae drive powerful galactic winds after superbubble breakout

Drummond Fielding, Eliot Quataert, Davide Martizzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

112 Scopus citations


We use three-dimensional hydrodynamic simulations of vertically stratified patches of galactic discs to study how the spatio-temporal clustering of supernovae (SNe) enhances the power of galactic winds. Randomly distributed SNe drive inefficient galactic winds because most supernova remnants lose their energy radiatively before breaking out of the disc. Accounting for the fact that most star formation is clustered alleviates this problem. Superbubbles driven by the combined effects of clustered SNe propagate rapidly enough to break out of galactic discs well before the clusters' SNe stop going off. The radiative losses post-breakout are reduced dramatically and a large fraction (≳0.2) of the energy released by SNe vents into the halo powering a strong galactic wind. These energetic winds are capable of providing strong preventative feedback and eject substantial mass from the galaxy with outflow rates of the order of the star formation rate. The momentum flux in the wind is only of order that injected by the SNe, because the hot gas vents before doing significant work on the surroundings. We show that our conclusions hold for a range of galaxy properties, both in the local Universe (e.g. M82) and at high redshift (e.g. z ~ 2 star-forming galaxies). We further show that if the efficiency of forming star clusters increases with increasing gas surface density, as suggested by theoretical arguments, the condition for star cluster-driven superbubbles to break out of galactic discs corresponds to a threshold star formation rate surface density for the onset of galactic winds ~0.03M yr-1 kpc-2, of order that observed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3325-3347
Number of pages23
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 11 2018
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Galaxies: ISM
  • Galaxies: evolution
  • Galaxies: formation
  • Galaxies: starburst
  • ISM: supernova remnants


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