Multiphase gas in the circumgalactic medium: Relative role of Tcool/TFF and density fluctuations

Prakriti Pal Choudhury, Prateek Sharma, Eliot Quataert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


We perform a suite of simulations with realistic gravity and thermal balance in shells to quantify the role of the ratio of cooling time to the free-fall time (tcool/tff) and the amplitude of density perturbations (δρ/ρ) in the production of multiphase gas in the circumgalactic medium (CGM). Previous idealized simulations, focusing on small amplitude perturbations in the intracluster medium (ICM), found that cold gas can condense out of the hot ICM in global thermal balance when the background tcool/tff ≲ 10. Recent observations suggest the presence of cold gas even when the background profiles have somewhat large values of tcool/tff. This partly motivates a better understanding of additional factors such as large density perturbations that can enhance the propensity for cooling and condensation even when the background tcool/tff is high. Such large density contrasts can be seeded by galaxy wakes or dense cosmological filaments. From our simulations, we introduce a condensation curve in the (δρ/ρ) – min(tcool/tff) space, which defines the threshold for condensation of multiphase gas in the CGM. We show that this condensation curve corresponds to (tcool/tff)blob ≲ 10 applied to the overdense blob instead of the background for which tcool/tff can be higher. We also study the modification in the condensation curve by varying entropy stratification. Steeper (positive) entropy gradients shift the condensation curve to higher amplitudes of perturbations (i.e. make condensation difficult). A constant entropy core, applicable to the CGM in smaller haloes, shows condensation over a larger range of radii as compared to the steeper entropy profiles in the ICM.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3195-3210
Number of pages16
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 21 2019
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Galaxies: clusters: intracluster medium
  • Galaxies: haloes


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