Date of Award

2-2009

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Astronomy

First Advisor

Daniel Wang

Second Advisor

Laura Cadonati

Third Advisor

Neal S. Katz

Subject Categories

Astrophysics and Astronomy | External Galaxies | Stars, Interstellar Medium and the Galaxy

Abstract

Aiming at understanding the role of stellar feedback in galaxy evolution, I present a study of the hot interstellar medium in several representative galaxies, based primarily on X-ray observations as well as theoretical modelling. I find that, in the massive disk galaxies NGC2613 and M104, the observed amount of hot gas is much less than that predicted by current galaxy formation models. Such a discrepancy suggests a lack of appropriate treatments of stellar/AGN feedback in these models. I also find that stellar feedback, primarily in the form of mass loss from evolved stars and energy released from supernovae, and presumably consumed by the hot gas, is largely absent from the inner regions of M104, a galaxy of a substantial content of evolved stars but little current star formation. A natural understanding of this phenomenon is that the hot gas is in the form of a galactic-scale outflow, by which the bulk of the stellar feedback is transported to the outer regions and perhaps into the intergalactic space. A comparison between the observed sub-galactic gas structures and model predictions indicate that this outflow is probably subsonic rather than being a classical supersonic galactic wind. Such outflows are likely prevalent in most early-type galaxies of intermediate masses in the present-day universe and thus play a crucial role in the evolution of such galaxies. For the first time I identify the presence of diffuse hot gas in and around the bulge of the Andromeda Galaxy (M31), our well-known neighbor. Both the morphology and energetics of the hot gas suggest that it is also in the form of a large-scale outflow. Assisted with multiwavelength observations toward the circumnuclear regions of M31, I further reveal the relation between the hot gas and other cooler phases of the interstellar medium. I suggest that thermal evaporation, mostly likely energized by Type Ia supernovae, acts to continuously turn cold gas into hot, a process that naturally leads to the inactivity of the central supermassive blackhole as well as the launch of the hot gas outflow. Such a mechanism plays an important role in regulating the multi-phase interstellar medium in the circumnuclear environment and transporting stellar feedback to the outer galactic regions.

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