Ongoing Research Topics

Collaborators: Joel Primack, Piero Madau, Oliver Hahn, Matthew Turk, Oscar Agertz, Romain Teyssier, Britton Smith, Santi Roca-Fabrega, the AGORA Collaboration

High-resolution galaxy formation simulations provide a unique opportunity to test our understandings of the interactions between galactic ingredients. At the same time, however, it is equally imperative to verify that astrophysical assumptions are accountable for any success in galaxy simulations, not artifacts of particular numerical implementations. While numerical experiments have become one of the most powerful tools in formulating theories of galaxy formation, it is this requirement of reproducibility that precludes theorists from drawing a definitive conclusion based on a single simulation technique.

The numerical community’s collective response to such a challenge is the AGORA High-resolution Galaxy Simulations Comparison Project that promotes a multi-platform approach to outstanding problems in galaxy formation. I have spearheaded an inter-institutional effort (more than 160 participants from over 60 institutions worldwide as of 2019) along with J. Primack and P. Madau to establish the project infrastructures. They include common cosmological initial conditions (i.e., 4 halo masses and 2 assembly histories by MUSIC), common isolated initial conditions (e.g., generated by MakeDisk), common astrophysics models (e.g., cooling and UV background by GRACKLE package), and common analysis platform (i.e., yt toolkit), all publicly available to the community. Using the components assembled, the ongoing collaborative efforts aim to raise the realism of numerical experiments collectively by comparing galaxy simulations across platforms, resulting in multiple publications in the next years.

Click to see an 1-slide introduction of the Project

●  Roca-Fabrega, S. et al. including Kim, J. -H. for the AGORA Collaboration, “The AGORA High-resolution Galaxy Simulations Comparison Project.: Public Data Release”,   [astro-ph:2001.00000]   [Local/high-resolution]   [Project Website]   [Collection of Useful Links]  

●  Kim, J. -H., Agertz, O., Teyssier, R., Butler, M. J., Ceverino, D., & 38 other co-authors for the AGORA Collaboration, “The AGORA High-resolution Galaxy Simulations Comparison Project. II: Isolated Disk Test”,   ApJ 833 (2016) 202   [astro-ph:1610.03066]   [Local/high-resolution]  

●  Kim, J. -H., Abel, T., Agertz, O., Bryan, G. L., Ceverino, D., & 41 other co-authors for the AGORA Collaboration, “The AGORA High-resolution Galaxy Simulations Comparison Project”,   ApJS 210 (2014) 14   [astro-ph:1308.2669]   [Local/high-resolution]   [Project Website]   [1-slide Introduction]   [UC-HiPACC AstroShort Article]   [UCSC Press Release] (EurekAlert)   [UC-HiPACC Press Release] (EurekAlert)

Collaborators: John Wise, Phil Hopkins, Tom Abel, Joel Primack, Marcelo Alvarez, the ENZO Collaboration

As computational resolution of modern cosmological simulations reach ever so close to resolving individual star-forming clumps in a galaxy, a need for "resolution-appropriate" physics for a galaxy-scale simulation has never been greater. To this end, we introduce a self-consistent numerical framework that includes explicit treatments of feedback from star-forming molecular clouds (SFMCs) and massive black holes (MBHs). In addition to the thermal supernovae feedback from SFMC particles, photoionizing radiation from both SFMCs and MBHs is tracked through full 3-dimensional ray tracing. A mechanical feedback channel from MBHs is also considered. Using our framework, we perform a state-of-the-art cosmological simulation of a quasar-host galaxy at z~7.5 for ~25 Myrs with all relevant galactic components such as dark matter, gas, SFMCs, and an embedded MBH seed of ~> 1e6 Ms. We find that feedback from SFMCs and an accreting MBH suppresses runaway star formation locally in the galactic core region. Newly included radiation feedback from SFMCs, combined with feedback from the MBH, helps the MBH grow faster by retaining gas that eventually accretes on to the MBH. Our experiment demonstrates that previously undiscussed types of interplay between gas, SFMCs, and a MBH may hold important clues about the growth and feedback of quasars and their host galaxies in the high-redshift Universe.

Click to view an enlarged high-resolution image

●  Kim, J. -H., Wise, J. H., Abel, T., Jo, Y., Primack, J. R., & Hopkins, P. F., “High-redshift Galaxy Formation with Self-consistently Modeled Stars and Massive Black Holes: Stellar Feedback and Quasar Growth” ,   ApJ in press (2019)   [astro-ph:1910.12888]   [Local/high-resolution]

●  Bryan, G. L. et al. including Kim, J. -H. for the ENZO Collaboration, “Enzo: An Adaptive Mesh Refinement Code for Astrophysics (Version 2.6)” ,   JOSS 4(42) (2019) 1636  

●  Bryan, G. L. et al. including Kim, J. -H. for the ENZO Collaboration, “Enzo: An Adaptive Mesh Refinement Code for Astrophysics” ,   ApJS 211 (2014) 19   [astro-ph:1307.2265]

●  Kaehler, R., Abel, T., & Kim, J. -H., “Visualization of a High-resolution Galaxy Formation Simulation” ,   SuperComputing '11 Scientific Visualization Companion Proceedings pp.133 (2011), Seattle, WA, November 2011   [Local]   [Visualization by R. Kaehler]

●  Kim, J. -H., Wise, J. H., Alvarez, M. A., & Abel, T., “Galaxy Formation with Self-consistently Modeled Stars and Massive Black Holes. I: Feedback-regulated Star Formation and Black Hole Growth” ,   ApJ 738 (2011) 54   [astro-ph:1106.4007]   [Local/high-resolution]   [Selected Plots and Movies]   [Astrobites Article]   [Visualization by R. Kaehler]

●  Kim, J. -H., “Galaxy Formation and Mergers with Stars and Massive Black Holes” ,   Ph.D. Dissertation, Stanford Univ., May 2011   [Google Books]   [Local]  

Collaborators: Phil Hopkins, Xiangcheng Ma, Andrew Wetzel, Chris Hayward, the FIRE Collaboration

Using a state-of-the-art cosmological simulation of merging proto-galaxies at high redshift from the FIRE project, with explicit treatments of star formation and stellar feedback in the interstellar medium, I have investigated the formation of star clusters and examine one of the formation hypothesis of present-day metal-poor globular clusters. We found that frequent mergers in high-redshift proto-galaxies could provide a fertile environment to produce long-lasting bound star clusters. The violent merger event disturbs the gravitational potential and pushes a large gas mass of ~>1e5−6 Msun collectively to high density, at which point it rapidly turns into stars before stellar feedback can stop star formation. The high dynamic range of the FIRE simulation is critical in realizing such dense star-forming clouds with a small dynamical timescale less than 3 Myr, shorter than most stellar feedback timescales. The simulation then allows us to trace how clusters could become virialized and tightly-bound to survive for up to ~420 Myr till the end of the simulation. Because the cluster’s tightly-bound core was formed in one short burst, and the nearby older stars originally grouped with the cluster tend to be preferentially removed, at the end of the simulation the cluster has a small age spread.

Click to view an enlarged high-resolution image

●  Ma, X. et al. including Kim, J. -H., “Self-consistent Proto-Globular Cluster Formation in Cosmological Simulations of High-redshift Galaxies” ,   MNRAS submitted (2019)   [astro-ph:1906.11261]

●  Kim, J. -H., Ma, X., Grudic, M. Y., Hopkins, P. F., Hayward, C. C., & 5 other co-authors for the FIRE Collaboration, “Formation of Globular Cluster Candidates in Merging Proto-galaxies at High Redshift: A View from the FIRE Cosmological Simulations” ,   MNRAS 474 (2018) 4232   [astro-ph:1704.02988]   [Local/high-resolution]  

●  Hopkins, P. F. et al. including Kim, J. -H., “The FIRE-2 Simulations: Physics versus Numerics in Galaxy Formation” ,   MNRAS 480 (2018) 800   [astro-ph:1702.06148]

●  Wetzel, A., Hopkins, P. F., Kim, J. -H., Faucher-Giguere, C-A., Keres, D., & Quataert, E., “Reconciling Dwarf Galaxies with LCDM Cosmology: Simulating A Realistic Population of Satellites Around A Milky Way-Mass Galaxies” ,   ApJ 827 (2016) L23   [astro-ph:1602.05957]   [Caltech News Article]  

Collaborators: Yongseok Jo, Daisuke Nagai

We have developed a pipeline to estimate baryonic properties of a galaxy inside a dark matter (DM) halo in DM-only simulations using a machine trained on high-resolution hydrodynamic simulations. As an example, we use the IllustrisTNG hydrodynamic simulation of a (75 Mpc)^3 volume to train our machine to predict e.g., stellar mass and star formation rate in a galaxy-sized halo based purely on its DM content. An extremely randomized tree (ERT) algorithm is used together with multiple novel improvements we introduce here such as a refined error function in machine training and two-stage learning. Aided by these improvements, our model demonstrates a significantly increased accuracy in predicting baryonic properties compared to prior attempts -- in other words, the machine better mimics IllustrisTNG's galaxy-halo correlation. By applying our machine to the MultiDark-Planck DM-only simulation of a large (1 Gpc)^3 volume, we then validate the pipeline that rapidly generates a galaxy catalogue from a DM halo catalogue using the correlations the machine found in IllustrisTNG. We also compare our galaxy catalogue with the ones produced by popular semi-analytic models (SAMs). Our so-called machine-assisted semi-simulation model (MSSM) is shown to be largely compatible with SAMs, and may become a promising method to transplant the baryon physics of galaxy-scale hydrodynamic calculations onto a larger-volume DM-only run.

Click to see the flowchart of our prediction model

●  Jo, Y., & Kim, J. -H. (corr. author), “Machine-assisted Semi-Simulation Model (MSSM): Estimating Galactic Baryonic Properties from Their Dark Matter Using A Machine Trained on Hydrodynamic Simulations” ,   MNRAS 489 (2019) 3565   [astro-ph:1908.09844]   [Local/high-resolution]

Collaborators: Mark Krumholz, John Wise, Matthew Turk, Nathan Goldbaum, Tom Abel, the ENZO Collaboration

I have developed a comprehensive description of stellar feedback in a galaxy simulation by combining the ultraviolet (UV) radiation from star clusters and the thermal energy of supernova explosions. In this method, which we call star-forming molecular cloud (SFMC) particles, we use a ray-tracing technique to follow the ultraviolet photons emitted by thousands of distinct particles on the fly. I have applied the realistic description of stellar feedback to a dwarf-sized galactic halo of 2.3e11 Msun with high spatial resolution. By tracing UV photons from thousands of SFMC particles, this feedback scheme has enabled us to study the escape of ionizing photons from an individual SFMC particle and from a galaxy, and to examine the evolving environment of star-forming clouds. I have discovered that the overall UV escape fraction is dominated by a small number of SFMCs with high escape fractions. In addition, the escape fraction from a SFMC particle on average rises from 0.27% at its birth to 2.1% at the end of its lifetime, 6 Myrs. This is because SFMCs drift away from the dense clumps in which they were born, and because the gas around the them is dispersed by stellar feedback.

Because we self-consistently locate the ionized gas, we can make mock observations of Hα emission, a star formation rate (SFR) tracer. With this, I have made a direct comparison between simulated and observed galaxies, and studied how stellar feedback manifests itself in the spatially-resolved star formation relation. I find that the correlation between SFR density (by mock Hα) and H2 density shows large scatter, especially at high resolutions of 75 pc that are comparable to the size of giant molecular clouds (GMCs). This is because an aperture of GMC size captures only particular stages of GMC evolution, and because Hα traces hot gas around star-forming regions, displaced from the H2 peaks themselves.

Click to view an enlarged high-resolution image

●  Butsky, I., Zrake, J., Kim, J. -H., Yang, H. -I., & Abel, T., “Ab Initio Simulations of A Supernova Driven Galactic Dynamo in An Isolated Disk Galaxy” ,   ApJ 843 (2017) 113   [astro-ph:1610.08528]   [Local/high-resolution]  

●  Pineda, J. L. et al. including Kim, J. -H., “Bridging the Gap: Observations and Theory of Star Formation Meet on Large and Small Scales - Study Report” ,   Keck Institute for Space Studies Report, Pasadena, CA, November 2014   [Local]  

●  Kim, J. -H., & Lee, J., “How Does the Surface Density and Size of Disk Galaxies Measured in Hydrodynamic Simulations Correlate with the Halo Spin Parameter?” ,   MNRAS 432 (2013) 1701   [astro-ph:1210.8321]   [Local/high-resolution]  

●  Kim, J. -H., Krumholz, M. R., Wise, J. H., Turk, M. J., Goldbaum, N. J., & Abel, T., “Dwarf Galaxies with Ionizing Radiation Feedback. II: Spatially-resolved Star Formation Relation” ,   ApJ 779 (2013) 8   [astro-ph:1210.6988]   [Local/high-resolution]

●  Kim, J. -H., Krumholz, M. R., Wise, J. H., Turk, M. J., Goldbaum, N. J., & Abel, T., “Dwarf Galaxies with Ionizing Radiation Feedback. I: Escape of Ionizing Photons” ,   ApJ 775 (2013) 109   [astro-ph:1210.3361]   [Local/high-resolution]   [KIPAC Highlights Article]

Collaborators: John Wise, Tom Abel, the ENZO Collaboration

In hierarchical structure formation, merging of galaxies is frequent and known to dramatically affect their properties. To comprehend these interactions high-resolution simulations are indispensable because of the nonlinear coupling between pc and Mpc scales. To this end, I have presented the first adaptive mesh refinement (AMR) simulation of two merging, low mass, initially gas-rich galaxies (1.8e10 Msun each), including star formation and feedback. With galaxies resolved by ~20 million total computational elements, I achieve unprecedented resolution of the multiphase interstellar medium, finding a widespread starburst in the merging galaxies via shock-induced star formation. The high dynamic range of AMR also allows us to follow the interplay between the galaxies and their embedding medium depicting how galactic outflows and a hot metal-rich halo form.

Click to view an enlarged high-resolution image

●  Kim, J. -H., Wise, J. H., & Abel, T., “Galaxy Mergers with Adaptive Mesh Refinement: Star Formation and Hot Gas Outflow” ,   ApJ 694 (2009) L123   [astro-ph:0902.3001]   [Local/high-resolution]   [Selected Plots and Movies]   [KIPAC Computing Article]   [Visualization by R. Kaehler]

●  Kim, J. -H., Wise, J. H., & Abel, T., “Galaxy Evolution on Adaptive Mesh Refinement” ,   AIP Conference Proceedings Vol. 990 (2008) 429, First Stars III Conference, Santa Fe, NM, July 2007   [Local/high-resolution]   [Selected Plots and Movies]