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Simba: The average properties of the circumgalactic medium of 2 ≤ z ≤ 3 quasars are determined primarily by stellar feedback

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2760-2784
Number of pages25
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
Early online date5 Oct 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Oct 2020


We use the Simba cosmological hydrodynamic simulation suite to explore the impact of feedback on the circumgalactic medium (CGM) and intergalactic medium (IGM) around 2 ≤ z ≤ 3 quasars. We identify quasars in Simba as the most rapidly-accreting black holes, and show that they are well-matched in bolometric luminosity and correlation strength to real quasars. We extract Lyα absorption in spectra passing at different transverse distances (⁠10kpc≲b≲10Mpc⁠) around those quasars, and compare to observations of the mean Lyα absorption profile. The observations are well reproduced, except within 100kpc from the foreground quasar, where Simba overproduces absorption; this could potentially be mitigated by including ionisation from the quasar itself. By comparing runs with different feedback modules activated, we find that (mechanical) AGN feedback has little impact on the surrounding CGM even around these most highly luminous black holes, while stellar feedback has a significant impact. By further investigating thermodynamic and kinematic properties of CGM gas, we find that stellar feedback, and not AGN feedback, is the primary physical driver in determining the average properties of the CGM around z ∼ 2 − 3 quasars. We also compare our results with previous works, and find that Simba predicts much more absorption within 100kpc than the Nyx and Illustris simulations, showing that the Lyα absorption profile can be a powerful constraint on simulations. Instruments such as VLT-MUSE and upcoming surveys (e.g., WEAVE and DESI) promise to further improve such constraints.

    Research areas

  • astro-ph.GA, astro-ph.CO

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