The launching of cold clouds by galaxy outflows. I. Hydrodynamic interactions with radiative cooling

Evan Scannapieco, Marcus Brüggen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

167 Scopus citations


To better understand the nature of the multiphase material found in outflowing galaxies, we study the evolution of cold clouds embedded in flows of hot and fast material. Using a suite of adaptive mesh refinement simulations that include radiative cooling, we investigate both cloud mass loss and cloud acceleration under the full range of conditions observed in galaxy outflows. The simulations are designed to track the cloud center of mass, enabling us to study the cloud evolution at long disruption times. For supersonic flows, a Mach cone forms around the cloud, which damps the Kelvin-Helmholtz instability but also establishes a streamwise pressure gradient that stretches the cloud apart. If time is expressed in units of the cloud crushing time, both the cloud lifetime and the cloud acceleration rate are independent of cloud radius, and we find simple scalings for these quantities as a function of the Mach number of the external medium. A resolution study suggests that our simulations accurately describe the evolution of cold clouds in the absence of thermal conduction and magnetic fields, physical processes whose roles will be studied in forthcoming papers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number158
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015


  • ISM: structure
  • galaxies: starburst
  • hydrodynamics
  • shock waves

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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