Shaken Snow Globes: Kinematic Tracers of the Multiphase Condensation Cascade in Massive Galaxies, Groups, and Clusters

M. Gaspari, M. McDonald, S. L. Hamer, F. Brighenti, P. Temi, M. Gendron-Marsolais, J. Hlavacek-Larrondo, A. C. Edge, N. Werner, P. Tozzi, M. Sun, James McLellan Stone, G. R. Tremblay, M. T. Hogan, D. Eckert, S. Ettori, H. Yu, V. Biffi, S. Planelles

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121 Scopus citations


We propose a novel method to constrain turbulence and bulk motions in massive galaxies, galaxy groups, and clusters, exploring both simulations and observations. As emerged in the recent picture of top-down multiphase condensation, hot gaseous halos are tightly linked to all other phases in terms of cospatiality and thermodynamics. While hot halos (∼107 K) are perturbed by subsonic turbulence, warm (∼104 K) ionized and neutral filaments condense out of the turbulent eddies. The peaks condense into cold molecular clouds (<100 K) raining in the core via chaotic cold accretion (CCA). We show that all phases are tightly linked in terms of the ensemble (wide-aperture) velocity dispersion along the line of sight. The correlation arises in complementary long-term AGN feedback simulations and high-resolution CCA runs, and is corroborated by the combined Hitomi and new Integral Field Unit measurements in the Perseus cluster. The ensemble multiphase gas distributions (from the UV to the radio band) are characterized by substantial spectral line broadening (σ v,los ≈ 100-200 ) with a mild line shift. On the other hand, pencil-beam detections (as H i absorption against the AGN backlight) sample the small-scale clouds displaying smaller broadening and significant line shifts of up to several 100 (for those falling toward the AGN), with increased scatter due to the turbulence intermittency. We present new ensemble σ v,los of the warm H+[N ii] gas in 72 observed cluster/group cores: the constraints are consistent with the simulations and can be used as robust proxies for the turbulent velocities, in particular for the challenging hot plasma (otherwise requiring extremely long X-ray exposures). Finally, we show that the physically motivated criterion C ≡ t cool/t eddy ≈ 1 best traces the condensation extent region and the presence of multiphase gas in observed clusters and groups. The ensemble method can be applied to many available spectroscopic data sets and can substantially advance our understanding of multiphase halos in light of the next-generation multiwavelength missions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number167
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 20 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • X-rays: galaxies: clusters
  • galaxies: active
  • hydrodynamics
  • radio lines: ISM
  • techniques: spectroscopic
  • turbulence


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