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# Model summary

Here, we provide a comprehensive summary of the model. Sink particles are an alternative to the current model of star formation that transforms gas particles into sink particles under some criteria explained below. Then, the sink can accrete gas and spawn stars. Sink particles are collisionless particles, i.e. they interact with other particles only through gravity. They can be seen as particles representing unresolved regions of collapse.

To spawn stars, an IMF is sampled. Details explanation of the IMF sampling are explained below. In short, the IMF is split into two parts In the lower part, star particles represent a continuous stellar population in a similar way to what is currently implemented in common models. In the second upper part, star particles represent individual stars. Then, the feedback is improved to take into account both types of stars. Currently, only supernovae feedback is implemented. The sink particle method allows thus to track the effect of the supernovae of individual stars in the simulation.

The current model includes sink formation, gas accretion, sink merging, IMF sampling, star spawning and finally supernovae feedback (type Ia and II).

Our main references are the following papers Bate et al., Price et al. and Federrath et al.

## Conversion from comoving to physical space

In the following, we always refer to physical quantities. In non-cosmological simulations, there is no ambiguity between comoving and physical quantities, since the universe is not expanding and thus the scale factor is $$a(t)=1$$. However, in cosmological simulation, we need to take care to convert from comoving quantities to physical ones when needed, e.g. to compute energies. Here is a recap:

• $$\mathbf{x}_p = \mathbf{x}_ca$$

• $$\mathbf{v}_p = \mathbf{v}_c/a + a H \mathbf{x}_c$$

• $$\rho_p = \rho_c/a^3$$

• $$\Phi_p = \Phi_c/a + c(a)$$

Here, the subscript p stands for physical and c for comoving.

Notice that the potential normalization constant has been chosen to be $$c(a) = 0$$.

## Sink formation

At the core of the sink particle method is the sink formation algorithm. This is critical to form sinks in regions adequate for star formation. Failing to can produce spurious sinks and stars, which is not desirable. However, there is no easy answer to the question. We chose to implement a simple and efficient algorithm. The primary criteria required to transform a gas particle into a sink are:

1. the density of a given particle $$i$$ is bigger than a user-defined threshold density: $$\rho_i > \rho_{\text{threshold}}$$ ;

2. the temperature of a given particle is smaller than a user-defined threshold temperature: $$T_i < T_{\text{threshold}}$$.

The first criterion is common but not the second one. This is checked to ensure that sink particles, and thus stars, are not generated in hot regions. The parameters for those threshold quantities are respectively called density_threshold_g_per_cm3 and maximal_temperature.

Then, further criteria are checked. They are always checked for gas particles within the accretion radius $$r_{\text{acc}}$$ (also called the cut-off radius) of a given gas particle $$i$$. Such gas particles are called neighbours.

Note

Notice that in the current implementation, the accretion radius is kept fixed and the same for all sinks. However, for the sake of generality, the mathematical expressions are given as if the accretion radii could be different.

So, the other criteria are the following:

1. The gas particle is at a local potential minimum: $$\Phi_i = \min_j \Phi_j$$.

2. Gas surrounding the particle is at rest or collapsing: $$\nabla \cdot \mathbf{v}_{i, p} \leq 0$$. (Optional)

3. The smoothing kernel’s edge of the particle is less than the accretion radius: $$\gamma_k h_i < r_{\text{acc}}$$, where $$\gamma_k$$ is kernel dependent. (Optional)

4. All neighbours are currently active.

5. The sum of the thermal of the neighbours satisfies: $$E_{\text{therm}} < |E_{\text{pot}}|/2$$. (Optional, together with criterion 8.)

6. The sum of thermal energy and rotational energy satisfies: $$E_{\text{therm}} + E_{\text{rot}} < | E_{\text{pot}}|$$. (Optional, together with criterion 7.)

7. The total energy of the neighbours is negative, i.e. the clump is bound to the sink: $$E_{\text{tot}} < 0$$. (Optional)

8. Forming a sink here will not overlap an existing sink $$s$$: $$\left| \mathbf{x}_i - \mathbf{x}_s \right| > r_{\text{acc}, i} + r_{\text{acc}, s}$$. (Optional)

Some criteria are optional and can be deactivated. By default, they are all enabled. The different energies are computed as follows:

• $$E_{\text{therm}} = \displaystyle \sum_j m_j u_{j, p}$$

• $$E_{\text{kin}} = \displaystyle \frac{1}{2} \sum_j m_j (\mathbf{v}_{i, p} - \mathbf{v}_{j, p})^2$$

• $$E_{\text{pot}} = \displaystyle \frac{G_N}{2} \sum_j m_i m_j \Phi_{j, p}$$

• $$E_{\text{rot}} = \displaystyle \sqrt{E_{\text{rot}, x}^2 + E_{\text{rot}, y}^2 + E_{\text{rot}, z}^2}$$

• $$E_{\text{rot}, x} = \displaystyle \frac{1}{2} \sum_j m_j \frac{L_{ij, x}^2}{\sqrt{(y_{i, p} - y_{j, p})^2 + (z_{i,p} - z_{j, p})^2}}$$

• $$E_{\text{rot}, y} = \displaystyle \frac{1}{2} \sum_j m_j \frac{L_{ij, y}^2}{\sqrt{(x_{i,p} - x_{j,p})^2 + (z_{i,p} - z_{j,p})^2}}$$

• $$E_{\text{rot}, z} = \displaystyle \frac{1}{2} \sum_j m_j \frac{L_{ij, z}^2}{\sqrt{(x_{i, p} - x_{j, p})^2 + (y_{i,p} - y_{j,p})^2}}$$

• The (physical) specific angular momentum: $$\mathbf{L}_{ij} = ( \mathbf{x}_{i, p} - \mathbf{x}_{j, p}) \times ( \mathbf{v}_{i, p} - \mathbf{x}_{j, p})$$

• $$E_{\text{mag}} = \displaystyle \sum_j E_{\text{mag}, j}$$

• $$E_{\text{tot}} = E_{\text{kin}} + E_{\text{pot}} + E_{\text{therm}} + E_{\text{mag}}$$

Note

Currently, magnetic energy is not included in the total energy, since the MHD scheme is in progress. However, the necessary modifications have already been taken care of.

The $$p$$ subscript is to recall that we are using physical quantities to compute energies.

The third criterion is mainly here to prevent two sink particles from forming at a distance smaller than the sink accretion radius. Since we allow sinks to merge, such a situation raises the question of which sink should swallow the other. This can depend on the order of the tasks, which is not a desirable property. As a result, this criterion is enforced.

The tenth criterion prevents the formation of spurious sinks. Experiences have shown that removing gas within the accretion radius biases the hydro density estimates: the gas feels a force toward the sink. At some point, there is an equilibrium and gas particles accumulate at the edge of the accretion radius, which can then spawn sink particles that do not fall onto the primary sink and never merge. This criterion can be disabled.

Note

However, notice that contrary to Bate et al., no boundary conditions for sink particles are introduced in the hydrodynamics calculations.

Note

Note that sink formation can be disabled. It can be useful, for example if you already have sinks in your initial conditions.

## Gas accretion

Now that sink particles can populate the simulation, they need to swallow gas particles. To be accreted, gas particles need to pass a series of criteria. In the following, $$s$$ denotes a sink particle and $$i$$ is a gas particle. The criteria are the following:

1. If the gas falls within $$f_{\text{acc}} r_{\text{acc}}$$ ($$0 \leq f_{\text{acc}} \leq 1$$), the gas is accreted without further check.

2. In the region $$f_{\text{acc}} r_{\text{acc}} \leq |\mathbf{x}_i| \leq r_{\text{acc}}$$, then, we check:

1. The specific angular momentum is smaller than the one of a Keplerian orbit at $$r_{\text{acc}}$$: $$|\mathbf{L}_{si}| \leq |\mathbf{L}_{\text{Kepler}}|$$.

2. The gas is gravitationally bound to the sink particle: $$E_{\text{tot}} < 0$$.

3. Out of all pairs of sink-gas, the gas is the most bound to this one. This case is illustrated in the figure below.

The physical specific angular momenta and the total energy are given by:

• $$\mathbf{L}_{si} = ( \mathbf{x}_{s, p} - \mathbf{x}_{i, p}) \times ( \mathbf{v}_{s, p} - \mathbf{x}_{i, p})$$,

• $$|\mathbf{L}_{\text{Kepler}}| = r_{\text{acc}, p} \cdot \sqrt{G_N m_s / |\mathbf{x}_{s, p} - \mathbf{x}_{i, p}|^3}$$.

• $$E_{\text{tot}} = \frac{1}{2} (\mathbf{v}_{s, p} - \mathbf{x}_{i, p})^2 - G_N \Phi(|\mathbf{x}_{s, p} - \mathbf{x}_{i, p}|)$$.

Note

Here the potential is the softened potential of Swift.

Those criteria are similar to Price et al..

Once a gas is eligible for accretion, its properties are assigned to the sink. The sink accretes the entire gas particle mass and its properties are updated in the following way:

• $$\displaystyle \mathbf{v}_{s, c} = \frac{m_s \mathbf{v}_{s, c} + m_i \mathbf{v}_{i, c}}{m_s + m_i}$$,

• Swallowed physical angular momentum: $$\mathbf{L}_{\text{acc}} = \mathbf{L}_{\text{acc}} + m_i( \mathbf{x}_{s, p} - \mathbf{x}_{i, p}) \times ( \mathbf{v}_{s, p} - \mathbf{x}_{i, p})$$,

• The chemistry data are transferred from the gas to the sink.

• $$m_s = m_s + m_i$$,

## Sink merging

Sinks are allowed to merge if they enter the accretion radius. Two sink particles can be merged if:

• One of the sink particles must be bound to the other.

In this case, the sink with the smallest mass is merged with the sink with the largest. If the two sinks have the same mass, we check the sink ID number and accrete the smallest ID onto the biggest one.

## IMF sampling

Now remains one critical question: how are stars formed in this scheme? Simply, by sampling an IMF. In our scheme, population III stars and population II have two different IMFs. For the sake of simplicity, in the following presentation, we consider only the case of population II stars. However, this can be easily generalized to population III.

Consider an IMF such as the one above. We split it into two parts at minimal_discrete_mass_Msun. The reason behind this is that we want to spawn star particles that represent individual (massive) stars, i.e. they are “discrete”. However, for computational reasons, we cannot afford to spawn every star of the IMF as a single particle. Since the IMF is dominated by low-mass stars (< 8 $$M_\odot$$ and even smaller) that do not end up in supernovae, we would have lots of “passive” stars.

Note

Recall that currently (April 2024), GEAR only implements SNIa and SNII as stellar feedback. Stars that do not undergo supernovae phases are “passive” in the current implementation.

As a result, we group all those low-mass stars in one stellar particle of mass stellar_particle_mass_Msun. Such star particles are called “continuous”, contrary to the “discrete” individual stars. With all that information, we can compute the number of stars in the continuous part of the IMF (called $$N_c$$) and in the discrete part (called $$N_d$$). Finally, we can compute the probabilities of each part, respectively called $$P_c$$ and $$P_d$$. Notice that the mathematical derivation is given in the theory latex files.

Thus, the algorithm to sample the IMF and five the sink their target_mass is the following :

• draw a random number $$\chi$$ from a uniform distribution in the interval $$(0 , \; 1 ]$$;

• if $$\chi < P_c$$: sink.target_mass = stellar_particle_mass;

• else: sink_target_mass = sample_IMF_high().

We have assumed that we have a function sample_IMF_high() that correctly samples the IMF in the discrete part.

Now, what happens to the sink? After a first sink forms, we give it a target mass with the algorithm outlined above. The sink then swallows gas particles (see the task graph at the top of the page) and finally spawns stars. While the sink possesses enough mass, we can continue to choose a new target mass. When the sink does have enough mass, the algorithm stops for this timestep. The next timestep, the sink may accrete gas and spawn stars again. If the sink never reaches the target mass, then it cannot spawn stars. In practice, however, sink particles could accumulate enough pass to spawn individual (Pop III) stars with masses 240 $$M_\odot$$ and more!

## Star spawning

Once the sink spawns a star particle, we need to give properties to the star. From the sink, the star inherits the chemistry properties. Concerning position, the star is currently put at the same location as the sink and the sink is moved by a small distance (randomly chosen) to avoid the two particles from overlapping. The star’s velocity is the same as the sink’s one. This model will be improved in a future update.

## Stellar feedback

Stellar feedback per se is not in the sink module but in the feedback one. However, if one uses sink particles with individual stars, the feedback implementation must be adapted. Here is a recap of the GEAR feedback with sink particles.

All details and explanations about GEAR stellar feedback are provided in the GEAR Feedback section. Here, we only provide the changes from the previous model.

In the previous model, star particles represented a population of stars with a defined IMF. Now, we have two kinds of star particles: particles representing a continuous portion of the IMF (see the image above) and particles representing a single (discrete) star. This requires updating the feedback model such that stars eligible for SN feedback can realise this feedback. In practice, this means that now we have individual SNII feedback for individual stars with a mass larger than 8 $$M_\odot$$.

SNIa feedback is not yet implemented for the continuous star particle, but it will be in a future update.