Collaborative Research: CDS&E: FIRE: Physically-Predictive Cosmological Simulations of Galaxy Formation with Resolved Feedback

Project: Research project

Project Details


Intellectual merit: We propose to carry out novel computational studies of galaxy formation using high-resolution, cosmological simulations that resolve the interstellar medium (ISM) physics with unprecedented realism. We will produce a systematic suite of simulations to be used to address a vast array of fundamental science questions. In our new physical model, the ISM is explicitly resolved into dense molecular clouds. Star formation is con�ned to these high-density regions and, as it proceeds, injects large quantities of energy and momentum into the surrounding medium via \stellar feedback." This stellar feedback is critical to produce realistic galaxies and to generate powerful galactic winds. These galactic winds also have important e�fects on the circum-galactic and intergalactic media (CGM, IGM), and understanding them is a key frontier. For the �first time, we incorporate all the important stellar feedback mechanisms (radiation pressure in the ultra-violet, optical, and infrared; stellar winds; supernova explosions of Types I & II; and photoionization heating in HII regions) in a self-consistent manner. The combination of resolved, clumpy ISM and positive reinforcement of di�erent feedback mechanisms produce powerful galactic winds with properties consistent with observations without ad hoc prescriptions, which previous simulations typically have had to incorporate. We will study the evolution of the galactic ISM, galaxy growth and its self-regulation via galactic winds, the interaction of infalling material with galactic out ows, metal dispersion in the CGM and IGM, as well as the thermal, kinematic, and ionizing e�ects of galaxies on their surroundings. Broader impacts: The broader impacts of our proposed program are multi-faceted. Thanks to our explicit modeling of the interstellar medium and feedback processes, our simulations represent a transformative step in galaxy formation modeling by dramatically improving the pre-dictive power of cosmological simulations. The preliminary successes that we have demonstrated in explaining the regulation of star formation in low-mass dark matter halos is already motivating groups across the world to follow a similar approach. To promote progress in this direction, we will make available the initial conditions from a representative sample of our simulation suite, so that other groups can directly compare their results again ours. The rich data sets that we will produce will not only enable theoretical studies of all the main processes in galaxy formation and evolution, but also interpretation of new and upcoming surveys at all wavelengths. Three graduate students will be trained in state-of-the-art numerical modeling and will benefit from collaborative interactions with the Co-PIs at three di�erent institutions, in addition to gaining experience in disseminating the results of their work at domestic and international conferences. We will also extend our e�orts to reach high school students. PI Faucher-Gigu�ere will collaborate with an NSF CT-STEM program at Northwestern to train teachers in computational thinking using results and visualizations from our simulations. The teachers will transfer the knowledge acquired to � 2; 000 high-school students. Co-PI Kere�s will work with high-school teachers through the CREATE program at UC San Diego to explain the connection between phenomena on Earth and our cosmic origins.
Effective start/end date7/1/146/30/18


  • National Science Foundation (AST-1412836)


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