Towards a complete accounting of energy and momentum from stellar feedback in galaxy formation simulations
Stellar feedback plays a key role in galaxy formation by regulating star formation, driving interstellar turbulence and generating galactic scale outflows. Although modern simulations of galaxy formation can resolve scales of 10-100 pc, star formation and feedback operate on smaller, "subgrid" scales. Great care should therefore be taken in order to properly account for the effect of feedback on global galaxy evolution. We investigate the momentum and energy budget of feedback during different stages of stellar evolution, and study its impact on the interstellar medium using simulations of local star forming regions and galactic disks at the resolution affordable in modern cosmological zoom-in simulations. In particular, we present a novel subgrid model for the momentum injection due to radiation pressure and stellar winds from massive stars during early, pre-supernova evolutionary stages of young star clusters. Early injection of momentum acts to clear out dense gas in star forming regions, hence limiting star formation. The reduced gas density mitigates radiative losses of thermal feedback energy from subsequent supernova explosions, leading to an increased overall efficiency of stellar feedback. The detailed impact of stellar feedback depends sensitively on the implementation and choice of parameters. Somewhat encouragingly, we find that implementations in which feedback is efficient lead to approximate self-regulation of global star formation efficiency. We compare simulation results using our feedback implementation to other phenomenological feedback methods, where thermal feedback energy is allowed to dissipate over time scales longer than the formal gas cooling time. We find that simulations with maximal momentum injection suppress star formation to a similar degree as is found in simulations adopting adiabatic thermal feedback.