Fast winds drive slow shells: A model for the circumgalactic medium as galactic wind-driven bubbles

Cassandra Lochhaas, Todd A. Thompson, Eliot Quataert, David H. Weinberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Successful models of the low-redshift circumgalactic medium (CGM) must account for (1) a large amount of gas, (2) relatively slow gas velocities, (3) a high degree of metal enrichment, (4) the similar absorption properties around both star-forming and passive galaxies, and (5) the observationally inferred temperature and densities of the CGM gas.We show that galactic wind-driven bubbles can account for these observed properties.We develop a model describing the motion of bubbles driven by a hot, fast galactic wind characteristic of supernova energy injection. The bubble size grows slowly to hundreds of kiloparsecs over 5-10 Gyr. For high star formation rates or high wind mass-loading M˙w/ M˙*, the free-flowing hot wind, the shocked hot wind in the interior of the bubble, and the swept-up halo gas within the bubble shell can all radiatively cool and contribute to low-ionization state metal line absorption.We verify that if the free-flowing wind cools, the shocked wind does as well. We find effective mass-loading factors of (Mw + Mswept)/M* ~ 5 - 12 as the bubbles sweep into the CGM. We predict cool gas masses, velocities, column densities, metal content, and absorption line velocities and linewidths of the bubble for a range of parameter choices. This picture can reproduce many of the COS-Halos and Keeney et al. (2017) observations of low-ionization state metal absorption lines around both star-forming and passive galaxies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1873-1896
Number of pages24
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Galaxies: general
  • Galaxies: haloes
  • Galaxies: starburst


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