The survival of gas clouds in the circumgalactic medium of Milky Way-like galaxies

L. Armillotta*, F. Fraternali, J. K. Werk, J. X. Prochaska, F. Marinacci

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    116 Citations (Scopus)


    Observational evidence shows that low-redshift galaxies are surrounded by extended haloes of multiphase gas, the so-called circumgalactic medium (CGM). To study the survival of relatively cool gas (T < 105 K) in the CGM, we performed a set of hydrodynamical simulations of cold (T = 104 K) neutral gas clouds travelling through a hot (T = 2 × 106 K) and low-density (n = 10-4 cm-3) coronal medium, typical of Milky Way-like galaxies at large galactocentric distances (~50-150 kpc).We explored the effects of different initial values of relative velocity and radius of the clouds. Our simulations were performed on a two-dimensional grid with constant mesh size (2 pc), and they include radiative cooling, photoionization heating and thermal conduction. We found that for large clouds (radii larger than 250 pc), the cool gas survives for very long time (larger than 250 Myr): despite that they are partially destroyed and fragmented into smaller cloudlets during their trajectory, the total mass of cool gas decreases at very low rates. We found that thermal conduction plays a significant role: its effect is to hinder formation of hydrodynamical instabilities at the cloud-corona interface, keeping the cloud compact and therefore more difficult to destroy. The distribution of column densities extracted from our simulations is compatible with those observed for low-temperature ions (e.g. Si II and Si III) and for high-temperature ions (O VI) once we take into account that OVI covers much more extended regions than the cool gas and, therefore, it is more likely to be detected along a generic line of sight.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)114-125
    Number of pages12
    JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2017


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