Featured Image: A Disk Disturbed by Stellar Explosions

When massive stars go supernova, their deaths can reshape their home galaxies. Using a high-resolution fluid dynamics simulation, Evan Schneider and Alwin Mao (University of Pittsburgh) examined how supernova explosions affect the distribution and temperature of a galaxy’s star-forming gas. Their simulations tackled how a galaxy similar to the cigar-shaped starburst galaxy Messier 82 evolves under the influence of supernovae. Synthetic star clusters scattered throughout the modeled galactic disk gradually warm their surroundings as they rotate in the plane of the galaxy, then suddenly inject large amounts of heat and energy when the stars explode. The image above shows a snapshot of the simulation after 30 million years of evolution, with red areas showing denser gas and blue areas showing more tenuous gas. Disrupted by stellar explosions, some of the disk’s gas flows into circumgalactic space, and Schneider and Mao found that the simulated outflow rate matches what has been estimated for nearby starburst galaxies. To learn more about this starburst galaxy simulation, be sure to check out the research article linked below.


“CGOLS V: Disk-Wide Stellar Feedback and Observational Implications of the Cholla Galactic Wind Model,” Evan E. Schneider and S. Alwin Mao 2024 ApJ 966 37. doi:10.3847/1538-4357/ad2e8a