BREATHING FIRE: HOW STELLAR FEEDBACK DRIVES RADIAL MIGRATION, RAPID SIZE FLUCTUATIONS, and POPULATION GRADIENTS in LOW-MASS GALAXIES

Kareem El-Badry, Andrew Wetzel, Marla Geha, Philip F. Hopkins, Dusan Kereš, T. K. Chan, Claude André Faucher-Giguère

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

125 Scopus citations

Abstract

We examine the effects of stellar feedback and bursty star formation on low-mass galaxies (Mstar = 2 ×106 - 5 ×1010 Mo) using the Feedback in Realistic Environments (FIRE) simulations. While previous studies emphasized the impact of feedback on dark matter profiles, we investigate the impact on the stellar component: kinematics, radial migration, size evolution, and population gradients. Feedback-driven outflows/inflows drive significant radial stellar migration over both short and long timescales via two processes: (1) outflowing/infalling gas can remain star-forming, producing young stars that migrate ∼1 kpc within their first 100 Myr, and (2) gas outflows/inflows drive strong fluctuations in the global potential, transferring energy to all stars. These processes produce several dramatic effects. First, galaxies' effective radii can fluctuate by factors of >2 over ∼200 Myr, and these rapid size fluctuations can account for much of the observed scatter in the radius at fixed Mstar. Second, the cumulative effects of many outflow/infall episodes steadily heat stellar orbits, causing old stars to migrate outward most strongly. This age-dependent radial migration mixes - and even inverts - intrinsic age and metallicity gradients. Thus, the galactic-archaeology approach of calculating radial star formation histories from stellar populations at z = 0 can be severely biased. These effects are strongest at Mstar ≈ 107-9.6 Mo, the same regime where feedback most efficiently cores galaxies. Thus, detailed measurements of stellar kinematics in low-mass galaxies can strongly constrain feedback models and test baryonic solutions to small-scale problems in ΛCDM.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number131
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume820
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016

Keywords

  • galaxies: dwarf
  • galaxies: evolution
  • galaxies: kinematics and dynamics
  • galaxies: star formation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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