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Video: Gas Clouds Wither in Galactic Winds

In this video from Evan Schneider at Princeton University, hot galactic winds destroy a cool cloud of interstellar gas. Rather than getting pushed, the simulation shows the cold material instead becomes gradually heated until it is fully incorporated into the hot wind.

To better understand how galactic wind affects star formation in galaxies, a two-person team led by UC Santa Cruz astrophysicist Brant Robertson and University of Arizona graduate student Evan Schneider (now a Hubble Fellow at Princeton University), scaled up their Cholla hydrodynamics code on the OLCF’s Cray XK7 Titan supercomputer to create highly detailed simulations of galactic wind.

“The process of generating galactic winds is something that requires exquisite resolution over a large volume to understand—much better resolution than other cosmological simulations that model populations of galaxies,” Robertson said. “This is something you really need a machine like Titan to do.”

After earning an allocation on Titan through DOE’s INCITE program, Robertson and Schneider started small, simulating a hot, supernova-driven wind colliding with a cool cloud of gas across 300 light years of space. (A light year equals the distance light travels in 1 year.) The results allowed the team to rule out a potential mechanism for galactic wind.

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