Observationally, magnetic fields reach equipartition with thermal energy and cosmic rays in the interstellar medium of disk galaxies such as the Milky Way. However, thus far cosmological simulations of the formation and evolution of galaxies have usually neglected magnetic fields. We employ the moving-mesh code AREPO to follow for the first time the formation and evolution of a Milky Way-like disk galaxy in its full cosmological context while taking into account magnetic fields. We find that a prescribed tiny magnetic seed field grows exponentially by a small-scale dynamo until it saturates around z = 4 with a magnetic energy of about 10% of the kinetic energy in the center of the galaxy's main progenitor halo. By z = 2, a well-defined gaseous disk forms in which the magnetic field is further amplified by differential rotation, until it saturates at an average field strength of ~6 μG in the disk plane. In this phase, the magnetic field is transformed from a chaotic small-scale field to an ordered large-scale field coherent on scales comparable to the disk radius. The final magnetic field strength, its radial profile, and the stellar structure of the disk compare well with observational data. A minor merger temporarily increases the magnetic field strength by about a factor of two, before it quickly decays back to its saturation value. Our results are highly insensitive to the initial seed field strength and suggest that the large-scale magnetic field in spiral galaxies can be explained as a result of the cosmic structure formation process.

Magnetic Fields in Cosmological Simulations of Disk Galaxies

Marinacci F;
2014

Abstract

Observationally, magnetic fields reach equipartition with thermal energy and cosmic rays in the interstellar medium of disk galaxies such as the Milky Way. However, thus far cosmological simulations of the formation and evolution of galaxies have usually neglected magnetic fields. We employ the moving-mesh code AREPO to follow for the first time the formation and evolution of a Milky Way-like disk galaxy in its full cosmological context while taking into account magnetic fields. We find that a prescribed tiny magnetic seed field grows exponentially by a small-scale dynamo until it saturates around z = 4 with a magnetic energy of about 10% of the kinetic energy in the center of the galaxy's main progenitor halo. By z = 2, a well-defined gaseous disk forms in which the magnetic field is further amplified by differential rotation, until it saturates at an average field strength of ~6 μG in the disk plane. In this phase, the magnetic field is transformed from a chaotic small-scale field to an ordered large-scale field coherent on scales comparable to the disk radius. The final magnetic field strength, its radial profile, and the stellar structure of the disk compare well with observational data. A minor merger temporarily increases the magnetic field strength by about a factor of two, before it quickly decays back to its saturation value. Our results are highly insensitive to the initial seed field strength and suggest that the large-scale magnetic field in spiral galaxies can be explained as a result of the cosmic structure formation process.
Pakmor R; Marinacci F; Springel V
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11585/663933
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