Testing a new physical model for the formation of galactic disks and its implications for star formation variability, ISM kinematics and galactic winds

Project: Research project

Project Details


This is a theory project to produce observational predictions testable by HST for a new physical model for the formation of disk galaxies, involving the “virialization of the inner circumgalactic medium (CGM).” This is a new model which our team recently proposed based on results from cosmological zoom-in simulations of galaxy formation from the FIRE project (Stern et al., 2020). The simulations predict that disk formation is accompanied by important changes in star formation and galactic wind properties: star formation rates (SFRs) switch from highly bursty to time steady and galactic winds (which are ubiquitous at high z) are strongly suppressed. The model thus has the potential to establish a new paradigm for the connections between galactic disks, star formation, and galactic winds, but must be confronted against observations first. For example, the model may explain why HST observations show that disks start to appear in massive galaxies only around z~2 and disk settling in lower-mass galaxies is delayed until later. This project will use a large suite of FIRE simulations systematically test different models for disk formation, including inner CGM virialization and its role in simultaneously explaining the different observed transitions. We will produce directly testable predictions, including mock HST and JWST images/IFU data, indicators of SFR variability, and diagnostics of ISM kinematics and winds.
Effective start/end date12/1/2011/30/23


  • Space Telescope Science Institute (HST-AR-16124.001-A//NAS5- 26555)
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (HST-AR-16124.001-A//NAS5- 26555)


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