skip to main content

SciTech ConnectSciTech Connect

Title: Where do galaxies end?

Our current view of galaxies considers them as systems of stars and gas embedded in extended halos of dark matter, much of it formed by the infall of smaller systems at earlier times. The true extent of a galaxy remains poorly determined, with the 'virial radius' (R {sub vir}) providing a characteristic separation between collapsed structures in dynamical equilibrium and external infalling matter. Other physical estimates of the extent of gravitational influence include the gravitational radius, gas accretion radius, and 'galactopause' arising from outflows that stall at 100-200 kpc over a range of outflow parameters and confining gas pressures. Physical criteria are proposed to define bound structures, including a more realistic definition of R {sub vir}(M {sub *}, M{sub h} , z{sub a} ) for stellar mass M {sub *} and halo mass M{sub h} , half of which formed at 'assembly redshifts' ranging from z{sub a} ≈ 0.7-1.3. We estimate the extent of bound gas and dark matter around L* galaxies to be ∼200 kpc. The new virial radii, with mean (R {sub vir}) ≈ 200 kpc, are 40%-50% smaller than values estimated in recent Hubble Space Telescope/Cosmic Origins Spectrograph detections of H I and O VI absorbers aroundmore » galaxies. In the new formalism, the Milky Way stellar mass, log M {sub *} = 10.7 ± 0.1, would correspond to R{sub vir}=153{sub −16}{sup +25} kpc for half-mass halo assembly at z{sub a} = 1.06 ± 0.03. The frequency per unit redshift of low-redshift O VI absorption lines in QSO spectra suggests absorber sizes ∼150 kpc when related to intervening 0.1L* galaxies. This formalism is intended to clarify semantic differences arising from observations of extended gas in galactic halos, circumgalactic medium (CGM), and filaments of the intergalactic medium (IGM). Astronomers should refer to bound gas in the galactic halo or CGM, and unbound gas at the CGM-IGM interface, on its way into the IGM.« less
Authors:
 [1] ;  [2]
  1. CASA, Department of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309, USAAND (United States)
  2. (United Kingdom)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22357263
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Astrophysical Journal; Journal Volume: 784; Journal Issue: 2; Other Information: Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
79 ASTROPHYSICS, COSMOLOGY AND ASTRONOMY; ABSORPTION; DATA; DETECTION; EQUILIBRIUM; FILAMENTS; INTERFACES; MASS; MILKY WAY; NONLUMINOUS MATTER; RED SHIFT; SPACE; SPECTRA; STARS; TELESCOPES