Are cosmological gas accretion streams multiphase and turbulent?
Sorbonne Universités, UPMC Paris VI, CNRS UMR 7095, Institut d’Astrophysique de Paris, 98bis bd Arago,
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2 Institut d’Astrophysique Spatiale, CNRS UMR 8617, Université Paris-Sud 11, Bâtiment 121, Orsay, France
3 Research associate at the Institut d’Astrophysique de Paris, 98bis bd Arago, 75014 Paris, France
Accepted: 20 October 2017
Simulations of cosmological filamentary accretion reveal flows (“streams”) of warm gas, T ~ 104 K, which bring gas into galaxies efficiently. We present a phenomenological scenario in which gas in such flows, if it is shocked as it enters the halo as we assume and depending on the post-shock temperature, stream radius, its relative overdensity, and other factors, becomes biphasic and turbulent. We consider a collimated stream of warm gas that flows into a halo from an overdense filament of the cosmic web. The post-shock streaming gas expands because it has a higher pressure than the ambient halo gas and fragments as it cools. The fragmented stream forms a two phase medium: a warm cloudy phase embedded in hot post-shock gas. We argue that the hot phase sustains the accretion shock. During fragmentation, a fraction of the initial kinetic energy of the infalling gas is converted into turbulence among and within the warm clouds. The thermodynamic evolution of the post-shock gas is largely determined by the relative timescales of several processes. These competing timescales characterize the cooling, expansion of the post-shock gas, amount of turbulence in the clouds, and dynamical time of the halo. We expect the gas to become multiphase when the gas cooling and dynamical times are of the same order of magnitude. In this framework, we show that this mainly occurs in the mass range, Mhalo ~ 1011 to 1013 M⊙, where the bulk of stars have formed in galaxies. Because of the expansion of the stream and turbulence, gas accreting along cosmic web filaments may eventually lose coherence and mix with the ambient halo gas. Through both the phase separation and “disruption” of the stream, the accretion efficiency onto a galaxy in a halo dynamical time is lowered. Decollimating flows make the direct interaction between galaxy feedback and accretion streams more likely, thereby further reducing the overall accretion efficiency. As we discuss in this work, moderating the gas accretion efficiency through these mechanisms may help to alleviate a number of significant challenges in theoretical galaxy formation.
Key words: instabilities / galaxies: evolution / galaxies: halos / galaxies: formation / methods: analytical
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