The physics of galactic winds driven by cosmic rays I: Diffusion

Eliot Quataert, Todd A. Thompson, Yan Fei Jiang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

The physics of Cosmic ray (CR) transport remains a key uncertainty in assessing whether CRs can produce galaxy-scale outflows consistent with observations. In this paper, we elucidate the physics of CR-driven galactic winds for CR transport dominated by diffusion. A companion paper considers CR streaming. We use analytic estimates validated by time-dependent spherically symmetric simulations to derive expressions for the mass-loss rate, momentum flux, and speed of CR-driven galactic winds, suitable for cosmological-scale or semi-analytic models of galaxy formation. For CR diffusion coefficients κ pdbl r0ci, where r0 is the base radius of the wind and ci is the isothermal gas sound speed, the asymptotic wind energy flux is comparable to that supplied to CRs, and the outflow rapidly accelerates to supersonic speeds. By contrast, for κ pdbl r0ci, CR-driven winds accelerate more slowly and lose most of their energy to gravity, a CR analogue of photon-tired stellar winds. Given CR diffusion coefficients estimated using Fermi gamma-ray observations of pion decay, we predict mass-loss rates in CR-driven galactic winds of the order of the star formation rate for dwarf and disc galaxies. The dwarf galaxy mass-loss rates are small compared to the mass-loadings needed to reconcile the stellar and dark matter halo mass functions. For nuclear starbursts (e.g. M82, Arp 220), CR diffusion and pion losses suppress the CR pressure in the galaxy and the strength of CR-driven winds. We discuss the implications of our results for interpreting observations of galactic winds and for the role of CRs in galaxy formation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1184-1203
Number of pages20
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Volume510
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

Keywords

  • cosmic rays
  • galaxies: dwarf
  • galaxies: starburst

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