Starburst-Driven Galactic Winds: Filament Formation and Emission Processes

Cooper, J. L.
Bicknell, G. V.
Sutherland, R. S.
Bland-Hawthorn, J.
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We have performed a series of three-dimensional simulations of the interaction of a supersonic wind with a non-spherical radiative cloud. These simulations are motivated by our recent three-dimensional model of a starburst-driven galactic wind interacting with an inhomogeneous disk, which show that an optically emitting filament can be formed by the break-up and acceleration of a cloud into a supersonic wind. In this study we consider the evolution of a cloud with two different geometries (fractal and spherical) and investigate the importance of radiative cooling on the cloud's survival. We have also undertaken a comprehensive resolution study in order to ascertain the effect of the assumed numerical resolution on the results. We find that the ability of the cloud to radiate heat is crucial for its survival. While an adiabatic cloud is destroyed over a short period of time, a radiative cloud is broken up via the Kelvin-Helmholtz instability into numerous small, dense cloudlets, which are drawn into the flow to form a filamentary structure. The degree of fragmentation is highly dependent on the resolution of the simulation, with the number of cloudlets formed increasing as the Kelvin-Helmholtz instability is better resolved. Nevertheless, there is a clear qualitative trend, with the filamentary structure still persistent at high resolution. We confirm the mechanism behind the formation of the H-alpha emitting filaments found in our global simulations of a starburst-driven wind. Based on our resolution study, we conclude that bow shocks around accelerated gas clouds, and their interaction, are the main source of the soft X-ray emission observed in these galactic-scale winds. [ABRIDGED]
Comment: Accepted to ApJ, 39 pages, 21 figures, movie file can obtained at
Astrophysics - Astrophysics of Galaxies, Astrophysics - Cosmology and Nongalactic Astrophysics