Simulations of jet heating in galaxy clusters: Successes and challenges

Davide Martizzi, Eliot Quataert, Claude André Faucher-Giguère, Drummond Fielding

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


We study how jets driven by active galactic nuclei influence the cooling flow in Perseus-like galaxy cluster cores with idealized, non-relativistic, hydrodynamical simulations performed with the Eulerian code ATHENA using high-resolution Godunov methods with low numerical diffusion. We use novel analysis methods to measure the cooling rate, the heating rate associated with multiple mechanisms, and the power associated with adiabatic compression/expansion. A significant reduction of the cooling rate and cooling flow within 20 kpc from the centre can be achieved with kinetic jets. However, at larger scales and away from the jet axis, the system relaxes to a cooling flow configuration. Jet feedback is anisotropic and is mostly distributed along the jet axis, where the cooling rate is reduced and a significant fraction of the jet power is converted into kinetic power of heated outflowing gas. Away from the jet axis weak shock heating represents the dominant heating source. Turbulent heating is significant only near the cluster centre, but it becomes inefficient at ∼50 kpc scales where it only represents a few per cent of the total heating rate. Several details of the simulations depend on the choice made for the hydro solver, a consequence of the difficulty of achieving proper numerical convergence for this problem: current physics implementations and resolutions do not properly capture multiphase gas that develops as a consequence of thermal instability. These processes happen at the grid scale and leave numerical solutions sensitive to the properties of the chosen hydro solver.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2465-2486
Number of pages22
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 21 2019
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Galaxies: active
  • Galaxies: clusters: general
  • Galaxies: jets
  • Methods: numerical


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