Vol 5, No 4

An Analytic Model of Galactic Winds and Mass Outflows

Cheng-Gang Shu, Hou-Jun Mo, Shu-De Mao


Abstract Galactic winds and mass outflows are observed both in nearby starburst galaxies and in high-redshift star-forming galaxies. We develop a simple analytic model to understand the observed superwind phenomenon with a discussion of the model uncertainties. Our model is built upon the model of McKee & Ostriker for the interstellar medium. It allows one to predict how properties of a superwind, such as wind velocity and mass outflow rate, are related to properties of its star-forming host galaxy, such as size, gas density and star formation rate. The model predicts a threshold of star formation rate density for the generation of observable galactic winds. Galaxies with more concentrated star formation activities produce superwinds with higher velocities. The predicted mass outflow rates are comparable to (or slightly larger than) the corresponding star formation rates. We apply our model to both local starburst galaxies and high-redshift Lyman break galaxies, and find its predictions to be in good agreement with current observations. Our model is simple and so can be easily incorporated into numerical simulations and semi-analytical models of galaxy formation.


Keywords galaxies: starburst --- galaxies: ISM --- galaxies: kinematics and dynamics --- galaxies: formation and evolution

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