Supernova feedback in a local vertically stratified medium: Interstellar turbulence and galactic winds

Davide Martizzi, Drummond Fielding, Claude André Faucher-Giguère, Eliot Quataert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations


We use local Cartesian simulations with a vertical gravitational potential to study how supernova (SN) feedback in stratified galactic discs drives turbulence and launches galactic winds. Our analysis includes three disc models with gas surface densities ranging from Milky Way-like galaxies to gas-rich ultraluminous infrared galaxies (ULIRGs), and two different SN driving schemes (random and correlated with local gas density). In order to isolate the physics of SN feedback, we do not include additional feedback processes. We find that, in these local box calculations, SN feedback excites relatively low mass-weighted gas turbulent velocity dispersions ≈3-7 km s-1 and low wind mass loading factors η ≲ 1 in all the cases we study. The low turbulent velocities and wind mass loading factors predicted by our local box calculations are significantly below those suggested by observations of gas-rich and rapidly star-forming galaxies; they are also in tension with global simulations of disc galaxies regulated by stellar feedback. Using a combination of numerical tests and analytic arguments, we argue that local Cartesian boxes cannot predict the properties of galactic winds because they do not capture the correct global geometry and gravitational potential of galaxies. The wind mass loading factors are in fact not well defined in local simulations because they decline significantly with increasing box height. More physically realistic calculations (e.g. including a global galactic potential and disc rotation) will likely be needed to fully understand disc turbulence and galactic outflows, even for the idealized case of feedback by SNe alone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2311-2326
Number of pages16
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Galaxies: ISM
  • Galaxies: evolution
  • Galaxies: formation
  • Galaxies: general
  • ISM: supernova remnants
  • Methods: numerical


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