The SILCC (SImulating the LifeCycle of molecular Clouds) project: I. Chemical evolution of the supernova-driven ISM [GA]

The SILCC project (SImulating the Life-Cycle of molecular Clouds) aims at a more self-consistent understanding of the interstellar medium (ISM) on small scales and its link to galaxy evolution. We simulate the evolution of the multi-phase ISM in a 500 pc x 500 pc x 10 kpc region of a galactic disc, with a gas surface density of $\Sigma_{_{\rm GAS}} = 10 \;{\rm M}_\odot/{\rm pc}^2$. The Flash 4.1 simulations include an external potential, self-gravity, magnetic fields, heating and radiative cooling, time-dependent chemistry of H$_2$ and CO considering (self-) shielding, and supernova (SN) feedback. We explore SN explosions at different (fixed) rates in high-density regions (peak), in random locations (random), in a combination of both (mixed), or clustered in space and time (clustered). Only random or clustered models with self-gravity (which evolve similarly) are in agreement with observations. Molecular hydrogen forms in dense filaments and clumps and contributes 20% – 40% to the total mass, whereas most of the mass (55% – 75%) is in atomic hydrogen. The ionised gas contributes <10%. For high SN rates (0.5 dex above Kennicutt-Schmidt) as well as for peak and mixed driving the formation of H$_2$ is strongly suppressed. Also without self-gravity the H$_2$ fraction is significantly lower ($\sim$ 5%). Most of the volume is filled with hot gas ($\sim$90% within $\pm$2 kpc). Only for random or clustered driving, a vertically expanding warm component of atomic hydrogen indicates a fountain flow. Magnetic fields have little impact on the final disc structure. However, they affect dense gas ($n\gtrsim 10\;{\rm cm}^{-3}$) and delay H$_2$ formation. We highlight that individual chemical species, in particular atomic hydrogen, populate different ISM phases and cannot be accurately accounted for by simple temperature-/density-based phase cut-offs.

Read this paper on arXiv…

S. Walch, P. Girichidis, T. Naab, et. al.
Wed, 10 Dec 14

Comments: 30 pages, 23 figures, submitted to MNRAS. Comments welcome! For movies of the simulations and download of selected Flash data see the SILCC website: this http URL