Superbubble breakout and galactic winds from disk galaxies
We study the conditions for disk galaxies to produce superbubbles that can break out of the disk and produce a galactic wind. We argue that the threshold surface density of supernovae rate for seeding a wind depends on the ability of superbubble energetics to compensate for radiative cooling. We first adapt Kompaneets formalism for expanding bubbles in a stratified medium to the case of continuous energy injection and include the effects of radiative cooling in the shell. With the help of hydrodynamic simulations, we then study the evolution of superbubbles evolving in stratified disks with typical disk parameters. We identify two crucial energy injection rates that differ in their effects, the corresponding breakout ranging from being gentle to a vigorous one. (a) Superbubbles that break out of the disk with a Mach number of order 2-3 correspond to an energy injection rate of order 10^-4 erg cm^-2 s^-1, which is relevant for disk galaxies with synchrotron emitting gas in the extra-planar regions. (b) A larger energy injection threshold, of order 10^-3 erg cm^-2 s^-1, or equivalently, a star formation surface density of ∼ 0.1 solar mass yr^-1 kpc^-2, corresponds to superbubbles with a Mach number ∼ 5-10. While the milder superbubbles can be produced by large OB associations, the latter kind requires super-starclusters. These derived conditions compare well with observations of disk galaxies with winds and the existence of multiphase halo gas. Furthermore, we find that contrary to the general belief that superbubbles fragment through Rayleigh-Taylor (RT) instability when they reach a vertical height of order the scale height, the superbubbles are first affected by thermal instability for typical disk parameters and that the RT instability takes over when the shells reach a distance of approximately twice the scale height.