FOGGIE: The (re-distribution) of metals in a simulated Milky Way mass galaxy
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A complete picture of galaxy formation requires a thorough census of metals in and around galaxies. The distribution of metals in galaxies is intimately linked to ongoing star formation and large-scale gas flows, as stars seed galaxies with metals that are then re-distributed through multiple feedback processes. Following the discovery that only about 20% of the metals expected from stars are actually in galaxies, we explore a simulated galaxy’s metal budget. We use FOGGIE, a simulation with unprecedented resolution in the galactic environs, to study the (re-)distribution of metals in a Milky Way-mass galaxy. We measure evolution in the metal mass and total mass for the stars, interstellar medium, and circumgalactic medium over 8 billion years, covering redshifts from z = 3.16 to z = 0.35. These results shed light on large-scale gas flows in and around the galaxy. Further understanding galactic evolution, especially at high redshift, will inform observations made with the next generation of space telescopes, including the James Webb.