We develop a formalism for the identification and accurate estimation of the strength of structure formation shocks during cosmological smoothed particle hydrodynamics simulations. Shocks play a decisive role not only for the thermalization of gas in virializing structures but also for the acceleration of relativistic cosmic rays (CRs) through diffusive shock acceleration. Our formalism is applicable both to ordinary non-relativistic thermal gas, and to plasmas composed of CRs and thermal gas. To this end, we derive an analytic solution to the one-dimensional Riemann shock tube problem for a composite plasma of CRs and thermal gas. We apply our methods to study the properties of structure formation shocks in high-resolution hydrodynamic simulations of the Lambda cold dark matter (ΛCDM) model. We find that most of the energy is dissipated in weak internal shocks with Mach numbers which are predominantly central flow shocks or merger shock waves traversing halo centres. Collapsed cosmological structures are surrounded by external shocks with much higher Mach numbers up to , but they play only a minor role in the energy balance of thermalization. This is because of the higher pre-shock gas densities within non-linear structures, and the significant increase of the mean shock speed as the characteristic halo mass grows with cosmic time. We show that after the epoch of cosmic reionization the Mach number distribution is significantly modified by an efficient suppression of strong external shock waves due to the associated increase of the sound speed of the diffuse gas. Invoking a model for CR acceleration in shock waves, we find that the average strength of shock waves responsible for CR energy injection is higher than that for shocks that dominate the thermalization of the gas. This implies that the dynamical importance of shock-injected CRs is comparatively large in the low-density, peripheral halo infalling regions, but is less important for the weaker flow shocks occurring in central high-density regions of haloes. When combined with radiative dissipation and star formation, our formalism can also be used to study CR injection by supernova shocks, or to construct models for shock-induced star formation in the interstellar medium.
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
- Pub Date:
- March 2006
- shock waves-methods: numerical-cosmic rays-galaxies: clusters: general-intergalactic medium-large-scale structure of Universe;
- 20 pages, 7 figures, just appeared in MNRAS, full resolution version available at http://www.cita.utoronto.ca/~pfrommer/Publications/MNRAS.367.113.pdf