The long lives of giant clumps and the birth of outflows in gas-rich galaxies at high redshift

Frédéric Bournaud, Valentin Perret, Florent Renaud, Avishai Dekel, Bruce G. Elmegreen, Debra M. Elmegreen, Romain Teyssier, Philippe Amram, Emanuele Daddi, Pierre Alain Duc, David Elbaz, Benoit Epinat, Jared M. Gabor, Stéphanie Juneau, Katarina Kraljic, Emeric Le Floch'

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152 Scopus citations

Abstract

Star-forming disk galaxies at high redshift are often subject to violent disk instability, characterized by giant clumps whose fate is yet to be understood. The main question is whether the clumps disrupt within their dynamical timescale (≤50 Myr), like the molecular clouds in today's galaxies, or whether they survive stellar feedback for more than a disk orbital time (≈300 Myr) in which case they can migrate inward and help building the central bulge. We present 3.5-7 pc resolution adaptive mesh refinement simulations of high-redshift disks including photoionization, radiation pressure, and supernovae feedback. Our modeling of radiation pressure determines the mass loading and initial velocity of winds from basic physical principles. We find that the giant clumps produce steady outflow rates comparable to and sometimes somewhat larger than their star formation rate, with velocities largely sufficient to escape the galaxy. The clumps also lose mass, especially old stars, by tidal stripping, and the stellar populations contained in the clumps hence remain relatively young (≤200 Myr), as observed. The clumps survive gaseous outflows and stellar loss, because they are wandering in gas-rich turbulent disks from which they can reaccrete gas at high rates compensating for outflows and tidal stripping, overall keeping realistic and self-regulated gaseous and stellar masses. The outflow and accretion rates have specific timescales of a few 108 yr, as opposed to rapid and repeated dispersion and reformation of clumps. Our simulations produce gaseous outflows with velocities, densities, and mass loading consistent with observations, and at the same time suggest that the giant clumps survive for hundreds of Myr and complete their migration to the center of high-redshift galaxies. These long-lived clumps are gas-dominated and contain a moderate mass fraction of stars; they drive inside-out disk evolution, thickening, spheroid growth, and fueling of the central black hole.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number57
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume780
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

Keywords

  • galaxies: bulges
  • galaxies: evolution
  • galaxies: formation
  • galaxies: high-redshift
  • galaxies: structure

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