Metal flows of the circumgalactic medium, and the metal budget in galactic haloes

Alexander L. Muratov, Dusan Keres, Claude Andre Faucher-Giguere, Philip F. Hopkins, Xiangcheng Ma, Daniel Angles-Alcazar, T. K. Chan, Paul Torrey, Paul Torrey, Zachary H. Hafen, Eliot Quataert, Norman Murray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

120 Scopus citations


We present an analysis of the flow of metals through the circumgalactic medium (CGM) in the Feedback in Realistic Environments (FIRE) simulations of galaxy formation, ranging from isolated dwarfs to L* galaxies. We find that nearly all metals produced in high-redshift galaxies are carried out in winds that reach 0.25Rvir. When measured at 0.25Rvir the metallicity of outflows is slightly higher than the interstellar medium (ISM) metallicity. Many metals thus reside in the CGM. Cooling and recycling from this reservoir determine the metal budget in the ISM. The outflowing metal flux decreases by a factor of ∼2 5 between 0.25Rvir and Rvir. Furthermore, outflow metallicity is typically lower at Rvir owing to dilution of the remaining outflow by metal-poor material swept up from the CGM. The inflow metallicity at Rvir is generally low, but outflow and inflow metallicities are similar in the inner halo. At low redshift, massive galaxies no longer generate outflows that reach the CGM, causing a divergence in CGM and ISM metallicity. Dwarf galaxies continue to generate outflows, although they preferentially retain metal ejecta. In all but the least massive galaxy considered, a majority of the metals are within the halo at z = 0. We measure the fraction of metals in CGM, ISM and stars, and quantify the thermal state of CGM metals in each halo. The total amount of metals in the low-redshift CGM of two simulated L* galaxies is consistent with estimates from the Cosmic Origin Spectrograph haloes survey, while for the other two it appears to be lower.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4170-4188
Number of pages19
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


  • Cosmology: theory
  • Galaxies: evolution
  • Galaxies: formation
  • Stars: formation


Dive into the research topics of 'Metal flows of the circumgalactic medium, and the metal budget in galactic haloes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this