Mass, morphing, metallicities: the evolution of infalling high velocity clouds - Institut d'astrophysique spatiale Access content directly
Journal Articles Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society Year : 2022

Mass, morphing, metallicities: the evolution of infalling high velocity clouds


ABSTRACT We revisit the reliability of metallicity estimates of high velocity clouds with the help of hydrodynamical simulations. We quantify the effect of accretion and viewing angle on metallicity estimates derived from absorption lines. Model parameters are chosen to provide strong lower limits on cloud contamination by ambient gas. Consistent with previous results, a cloud traveling through a stratified halo is contaminated by ambient material to the point that <10 per cent of its mass in neutral hydrogen consists of original cloud material. Contamination progresses nearly linearly with time, and it increases from head to tail. Therefore, metallicity estimates will depend on the evolutionary state of the cloud, and on position. While metallicities change with time by more than a factor of 10, well beyond observational uncertainties, most lines-of-sight range only within those uncertainties at any given time over all positions. Metallicity estimates vary with the cloud’s inclination angle within observational uncertainties. The cloud survives the infall through the halo because ambient gas continuously condenses and cools in the cloud’s wake and thus appears in the neutral phase. Therefore, the cloud observed at any fixed time is not a well-defined structure across time, since material gets constantly replaced. The thermal phases of the cloud are largely determined by the ambient pressure. Internal cloud dynamics evolve from drag gradients caused by shear instabilities, to complex patterns due to ram-pressure shielding, leading to a peloton effect, in which initially lagging gas can catch up to and even overtake the head of the cloud.
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hal-03873379 , version 1 (22-03-2023)



F Heitsch, A Marchal, M-A Miville-Deschênes, J Shull, A Fox. Mass, morphing, metallicities: the evolution of infalling high velocity clouds. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 2022, 509 (3), pp.4515-4531. ⟨10.1093/mnras/stab3266⟩. ⟨hal-03873379⟩
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