The Cosmic Ultraviolet Baryon Survey: Empirical Characterization of Turbulence in the Cool Circumgalactic Medium

Hsiao Wen Chen, Zhijie Qu, Michael Rauch, Mandy C. Chen, Fakhri S. Zahedy, Sean D. Johnson, Joop Schaye, Gwen C. Rudie, Erin Boettcher, Sebastiano Cantalupo, Claude André Faucher-Giguère, Jenny E. Greene, Sebastian Lopez, Robert A. Simcoe

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This paper reports the first measurement of the relationship between turbulent velocity and cloud size in the diffuse circumgalactic medium (CGM) in typical galaxy halos at redshift z ≈ 0.4-1. Through spectrally resolved absorption profiles of a suite of ionic transitions paired with careful ionization analyses of individual components, cool clumps of size as small as l cl ∼ 1 pc and density lower than n H = 10−3 cm−3 are identified in galaxy halos. In addition, comparing the line widths between different elements for kinematically matched components provides robust empirical constraints on the thermal temperature T and the nonthermal motions b NT, independent of the ionization models. On average, b NT is found to increase with l cl following b NT ∝ l cl 0.3 over three decades in spatial scale from l cl ≈ 1 pc to l cl ≈ 1 kpc. Attributing the observed b NT to turbulent motions internal to the clumps, the best-fit b NT-l cl relation shows that the turbulence is consistent with Kolmogorov at <1 kpc with a roughly constant energy transfer rate per unit mass of ϵ ≈ 0.003 cm2 s−3 and a dissipation timescale of ≲100 Myr. No significant difference is found between massive quiescent and star-forming halos in the sample on scales less than 1 kpc. While the inferred ϵ is comparable to what is found in C iv absorbers at high redshift, it is considerably smaller than observed in star-forming gas or in extended line-emitting nebulae around distant quasars. A brief discussion of possible sources to drive the observed turbulence in the cool CGM is presented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL25
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 1 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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