Though mighty, the extragalactic nebula and galaxies of comparable mass aren’t without scars chronicling turbulent histories. The University of California, Irvine astronomers et al. have shown that clusters of supernovas can cause the birth of scattered, eccentrically orbiting suns in outer stellar halos, upending commonly held notions of how star systems have formed and evolved over billions of years.
Hyper-realistic, cosmologically self-consistent computer simulations from the Feedback in Realistic Environments 2 project (“FIRE-2 Simulations: Physics versus Numerics in Galaxy Formation”) enabled the scientists to model the disruptions in otherwise orderly galactic rotations. The team’s work is the subject of a study published within the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
“These highly accurate numerical simulations have shown us that it’s likely the extragalactic nebula has been launching stars in circumgalactic space in outflows triggered by supernova explosions,” said senior author James Bullock, dean of UCI’s School of Physical Sciences and a professor of physics & astronomy. “It’s fascinating because when multiple big stars die, the resulting energy can expel gas from the galaxy, which successively cools, causing new stars to turn.”
Bullock said the diffuse distribution of stars within the stellar halo that extends far outside the classical disk of a galaxy is where the “archaeological record” of the system exists. Astronomers have long assumed that galaxies are assembled over lengthy periods of your time as smaller star groupings are available and are dismembered by the larger body, a process that ejects some stars into distant orbits. But the UCI team is proposing “supernova feedback” as a unique source for as many as 40 percent of those outer-halo stars.
Lead author Sijie Yu, a UCI PhD candidate in physics, said the findings were made possible partly by the provision of a strong new set of tools.
“The FIRE-2 simulations allow us to come up with movies that make it seem like you’re observing a true galaxy,” she noted.
“They show us that because the galaxy centre is rotating, a bubble driven by supernova feedback is developing with stars forming at its edge. it’s like the celebs are being kicked out of the centre.”
Bullock said he failed to expect to determine such an appointment because stars are such tight, incredibly dense balls that are generally not subject to being moved relative to the background of space. “Instead, what we’re witnessing is gas being pushed around,” he said, “and that gas subsequently cools and makes stars on its solution.”
The researchers said that while their conclusions are drawn from simulations of galaxies forming, growing and evolving to the current day, there’s actually a good amount of observational evidence that stars are forming in outflows from galactic centres to their halos.
“In plots that compare data from the ecu Space Agency’s Gaia mission – which provides a 3D velocity chart of stars within the extragalactic nebula – with other maps that show stellar density and metallicity, we will see structures almost like those produced by outflow stars in our simulations,” Yu said.
Bullock added that mature, heavier, metal-rich stars like our sun rotate round the centre of the galaxy at a predictable speed and trajectory. But the low-metallicity stars, which are subjected to fewer generations of fusion than our sun, will be seen rotating within the wrong way.
He said that over the lifespan of a galaxy, the amount of stars produced in supernova bubble outflows is tiny, around 2 per cent. But during the parts of galaxies’ histories when starburst events are booming, as many as 20 percent of stars are being formed this fashion.
“There are some current projects staring at galaxies that are considered to be very ‘starbursting’ straight away,” Yu said. “Some of the celebs in these observations also look suspiciously like they’re getting ejected from the centre.”