Speaker: Scott Lucchini, Department of Physics Graduate Student
Abstract: The Magellanic System is the perfect opportunity to explore many aspects of astrophysics right on our Galaxy’s doorstep. The Large and Small Magellanic Clouds (LMC, SMC) are interacting with each other and with the Milky Way to form the Magellanic Stream, a multiphase gaseous tail of intertwined filaments trailing behind the Clouds. Here we can study galactic dynamics, gas dynamics, turbulent processes, gas cooling and mixing, metal transport, and more. However, there are two outstanding mysteries as to how the Magellanic System came to be -- its large amount of ionized gas, and the high mass of the LMC. To solve both these discrepancies simultaneously, we introduced the Magellanic Corona. This warm, ionized circumgalactic medium should surround the LMC as it interacts with the SMC and the Milky Way. Throughout my thesis work, I have used high-resolution numerical simulations of the formation of the Magellanic Stream to test this new model including the Magellanic Corona. We can account for both the neutral and ionized components of the Stream while also reproducing the present-day positions and velocities of the LMC and the SMC. We have also found a new family of orbital histories for the Clouds that result in the neutral Stream being significantly closer than previous models predicted. The Magellanic Corona seems to be the key to the formation of the Magellanic Stream and has many implications throughout galaxy evolution.