Stellar feedback efficiencies: supernovae versus stellar winds

K.~M. Fierlinger, A. Burkert, E. Ntormousi, P. Fierlinger, M. Schartmann, A. Ballone, M.~G.~H. Krause, R. Diehl

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Stellar winds and supernova (SN) explosions of massive stars (`stellar feedback') create bubbles in the interstellar medium (ISM) and insert newly produced heavy elements and kinetic energy into their surroundings, possibly driving turbulence. Most of this energy is thermalized and immediately removed from the ISM by radiative cooling. The rest is available for driving ISM dynamics. In this work we estimate the amount of feedback energy retained as kinetic energy when the bubble walls have decelerated to the sound speed of the ambient medium. We show that the feedback of the most massive star outweighs the feedback from less massive stars. For a giant molecular cloud (GMC) mass of 105 M⊙ (as e.g. found in the Orion GMCs) and a star formation efficiency of 8 per cent the initial mass function predicts a most massive star of approximately 60 M⊙. For this stellar evolution model we test the dependence of the retained kinetic energy of the cold GMC gas on the inclusion of stellar winds. In our model winds insert 2.34 times the energy of an SN and create stellar wind bubbles serving as pressure reservoirs. We find that during the pressure-driven phases of the bubble evolution radiative losses peak near the contact discontinuity (CD), and thus the retained energy depends critically on the scales of the mixing processes across the CD. Taking into account the winds of massive stars increases the amount of kinetic energy deposited in the cold ISM from 0.1 per cent to a few per cent of the feedback energy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)710-730
Number of pages21
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number1
Early online date17 Dec 2015
Publication statusPublished - 11 Feb 2016


  • hydrodynamics, methods: numerical, stars: massive, supernovae: general, stars: winds, outflows, ISM: bubbles


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