Entrainment in trouble: Cool cloud acceleration and destruction in hot supernova-driven galactic winds

Dong Zhang, Todd A. Thompson, Eliot Quataert, Norman Murray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


Efficient thermalization of overlapping supernovae within star-forming galaxies may produce a supernova-heated fluid that drives galactic winds. For fiducial assumptions about the timescale for cloud shredding from high-resolution simulations (which neglect magnetic fields), we show that cool clouds with temperature from Tc ∼ 102-104 K seen in emission and absorption in galactic winds cannot be accelerated to observed velocities by the ram pressure of a hot wind. Taking into account both the radial structure of the hot flow and gravity, we show that this conclusion holds over a wide range of galaxy, cloud and hot wind properties. This finding calls into question the prevailing picture whereby the cool atomic gas seen in galactic winds is entrained and accelerated by the hot flow. Given these difficulties with ram pressure acceleration, we discuss alternative models for the origin of high-velocity cool gas outflows. Another possibility is that magnetic fields in cool clouds are sufficiently important that they prolong the cloud's life. For Tc = 103 K and 104 K clouds, we show that if conductive evaporation can be neglected, the cloud shredding time-scale must be ∼15 and 5 times longer, respectively, than the values from hydrodynamical simulations in order for cool cloud velocities to reach those seen in observations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4801-4814
Number of pages14
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2017
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Galaxies: Evolution
  • Galaxies: Formation
  • Galaxies: Fundamental parameters
  • Galaxies: Starburst
  • X-rays: Galaxies


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