Baryon cycling in the low-redshift circumgalactic medium: a comparison of simulations to the COS-Halos survey

Amanda Brady Ford, Jessica K. Werk, Romeel Davé, Jason Tumlinson, Rongmon Bordoloi, Neal Katz, Juna A. Kollmeier, Benjamin D. Oppenheimer, Molly S. Peeples, Jason X. Prochaska, David H. Weinberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We analyse the low-redshift (z ≈ 0.2) circumgalactic medium (CGM) by comparing absorption-line data from the COS-Halos survey to absorption around a matched galaxy sample from two cosmological hydrodynamic simulations. The models include different prescriptions for galactic outflows, namely hybrid energy/momentum driven wind (ezw), and constant winds (cw). We compare equivalent widths, covering factors, ion ratios, and kinematics. Both wind models show generally ≲ 1σ agreement with these observations for H I and certain low-ionization metal lines, but poorer agreement with higher ionization metal lines including Si III and O VI that are well observed by COS-Halos. This suggests that both models predict too much cool, metal-enriched gas and not enough hot gas, and / or that metals are not sufficiently mixed. This may reflect our model assumption of ejecting outflows as cool and unmixing gas. Our ezw simulation includes a heuristic prescription to quench massive galaxies by superheating interstellar medium gas. This produces low-ionization absorption broadly consistent with observations, but substantial O VI absorption inconsistent with data, suggesting that gas around quenched galaxies in the real Universe does not cool. At impact parameters of ≲ 50 kpc, recycling winds dominate the absorption of low ions and even H I, while O VI generally arises from metals ejected ≳ 1 Gyr ago. The similarity between the wind models is surprising, since they differ substantially in the amount and phase distribution of halo gas. We show that this similarity owes mainly to our comparison at fixed stellar (not halo) mass, suggesting that CGM properties are more closely tied to galaxy's stellar (versus halo) mass.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1745-1763
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 23 May 2016


  • galaxies: evolution
  • galaxies: general
  • galaxies: haloes
  • quasars: absorption lines


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