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Bimodality of low-redshift circumgalactic O VI in non-equilibrium EAGLE zoom simulations
Oppenheimer, Benjamin D.; Crain, Robert A.; Schaye, Joop; Rahmati, Alireza; Richings, Alexander J.; Trayford, James W.; Tumlinson, Jason; Bower, Richard G.; Schaller, Matthieu; Theuns, Tom
AA(CASA, Department of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences, University of Colorado, 389 UCB, Boulder, CO 80309, USA ), AB(Astrophysics Research Institute, Liverpool John Moores University, 146 Brownlow Hill, Liverpool L3 5RF, UK), AC(Leiden Observatory, Leiden University, PO Box 9513, NL-2300 RA Leiden, the Netherlands), AD(Institute for Computational Science, University of Zürich, Winterthurerstrasse 190, CH-8057 Zürich, Switzerland), AE(Department of Physics and Astronomy and CIERA, Northwestern University, 2145 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208, USA), AF(Institute for Computational Cosmology, Durham University, South Road, Durham DH1 3LE, UK), AG(Space Telescope Science Institute, 3700 San Martin Drive, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA), AH(Institute for Computational Cosmology, Durham University, South Road, Durham DH1 3LE, UK), AI(Institute for Computational Cosmology, Durham University, South Road, Durham DH1 3LE, UK), AJ(Institute for Computational Cosmology, Durham University, South Road, Durham DH1 3LE, UK)
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 460, Issue 2, p.2157-2179 (MNRAS Homepage)
Publication Date:
Astronomy Keywords:
methods: numerical, galaxies: formation, galaxies: haloes, intergalactic medium, quasars: absorption lines, cosmology: theory
Abstract Copyright:
2016 The Authors Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society
Bibliographic Code:


We introduce a series of 20 cosmological hydrodynamical simulations of L* (M200 = 1011.7-1012.3 M&sun;) and group-sized (M200 = 1012.7-1013.3 M&sun;) haloes run with the model used for the EAGLE project, which additionally includes a non-equilibrium ionization and cooling module that follows 136 ions. The simulations reproduce the observed correlation, revealed by COS-Halos at z ˜ 0.2, between {O {VI}} column density at impact parameters b < 150 kpc and the specific star formation rate (sSFR ≡ SFR/M*) of the central galaxy at z ˜ 0.2. We find that the column density of circumgalactic {O {VI}} is maximal in the haloes associated with L* galaxies, because their virial temperatures are close to the temperature at which the ionization fraction of {O {VI}} peaks (T ˜ 105.5 K). The higher virial temperature of group haloes (>106 K) promotes oxygen to higher ionization states, suppressing the {O {VI}} column density. The observed N_{O {VI}}-sSFR correlation therefore does not imply a causal link, but reflects the changing characteristic ionization state of oxygen as halo mass is increased. In spite of the mass dependence of the oxygen ionization state, the most abundant circumgalactic oxygen ion in both L* and group haloes is {O VII}; {O {VI}} accounts for only 0.1 per cent of the oxygen in group haloes and 0.9-1.3 per cent with L* haloes. Nonetheless, the metals traced by {O {VI}} absorbers represent a fossil record of the feedback history of galaxies over a Hubble time; their characteristic epoch of ejection corresponds to z > 1 and much of the ejected metal mass resides beyond the virial radius of galaxies. For both L* and group galaxies, more of the oxygen produced and released by stars in the circumgalactic medium (within twice the virial radius) than in the stars and interstellar medium of the galaxy.
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