Global dynamics of the interstellar medium in magnetized disc galaxies Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • ABSTRACT Magnetic fields are an elemental part of the interstellar medium in galaxies. However, their impact on gas dynamics and star formation in galaxies remains controversial. We use a suite of global magnetohydrodynamic simulations of isolated disc galaxies to study the influence of magnetic fields on the diffuse and dense gas in the discs. We find that the magnetic field acts in multiple ways. Stronger magnetized discs fragment earlier due to the shorter growth time of the Parker instability. Due to the Parker instability in the magnetized discs, we also find cold ($T \lt 50\, \mathrm{K}$) and dense ($n\sim 10^3 {--}10^4\, \mathrm{cm}^{-3}$) gas several hundred pc above/below the mid-plane without any form of stellar feedback. In addition, magnetic fields change the fragmentation pattern. While in the hydrodynamic case, the disc breaks up into ring-like structures, magnetized discs show the formation of filamentary entities that extent both in the azimuthal and radial direction. These kpc scale filaments become magnetically (super-)critical very quickly and allow for the rapid formation of massive giant molecular clouds. Our simulations suggest that major differences in the behaviour of star formation – due to a varying magnetization – in galaxies could arise.

publication date

  • November 11, 2019