Principal Investigator: Lauren Corlies
PI Institution: The Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum
Title: Resolving the Small-Scale Structure of the Circumgalactic Medium in Cosmological Simulations
We propose to resolve the circumgalactic medium (CGM) of L* galaxies down to 100 Msun (250 pc) in a full cosmological simulation to examine how mixing and cooling shape the physical nature of this gas on the scales expected from observations. COS has provided the best characterization of the low-z CGM to date, revealing the extent and amount of low- and high-ions and hinting at the kinematic relations between them. Yet cosmological galaxy simulations that can reproduce the stellar properties of galaxies have all struggled to reproduce these results even qualitatively. However, while the COS data imply that the low-ion absorption is occurring on sub-kpc scales, such scales can not be traced by simulations with resolution between 1-5 kpc in the CGM. Our proposed simulations will, for the first time, reach the resolution required to resolve these structures in the outer halo of L* galaxies. Using the adaptive mesh refinement code enzo, we will experiment with the size, shape, and resolution of an enforced high refinement region extending from the disk into the CGM to identify the best configuration for probing the flows of gas throughout the CGM. Our test case has found that increasing the resolution alone can have dramatic consequences for the density, temperature, and kinematics along a line of sight. Coupling this technique with an independent feedback study already underway will help disentangle the roles of global and small scale physics in setting the physical state of the CGM. Finally, we will use the MISTY pipeline to generate realistic mock spectra for direct comparison with COS data which will be made available through MAST.