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Why Circumgalactic Matter Matters

Physics/Astro Auditorium

Jess Werk (UW)

March 7 @ 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

The circumgalactic medium (CGM; non-ISM gas within a galaxy virial radius) regulates the gas flows that shape the evolutionary paths of galaxies. It likely contains most of the metals lost in galaxy winds and enough material to sustain star-formation for billions of years.  Owing to the vastly improved capabilities in space-based UV spectroscopy with the installation of HST/COS, observations and simulations of the CGM have emerged as the new frontier of galaxy evolution studies. In this talk, I will describe observational constraints we have placed on the origin and fate of this material by studying the gas kinematics, metallicity and ionization state of gas 10 – 200 kpc from galaxies’ stars. I will highlight the exciting new results from my group that constrain the cosmic baryon cycle on different physical scales, from black holes to the intergalactic medium. I will introduce several exciting new techniques for resolving the gaseous structures in the CGM, and will conclude by posing unanswered questions about the CGM that will be addressed with future survey data and hydrodynamic simulations in a cosmological context.