Journal Article

The impact of mergers on relaxed X-ray clusters – III. Effects on compact cool cores

Gregory B. Poole, Arif Babul, Ian G. McCarthy, A. J. R. Sanderson and Mark A. Fardal

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 391, issue 3, pages 1163-1175
Published in print December 2008 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online November 2008 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
The impact of mergers on relaxed X-ray clusters – III. Effects on compact cool cores

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We use the simulations presented in Poole et al. to examine the effects of mergers on the properties of cool cores in X-ray clusters. Motivated by recent Chandra and XMM–Newton observations, we propose a scheme for classifying the morphology of clusters based on their surface brightness and entropy profiles. Three dominant morphologies emerge: two hosting compact cores and central temperatures which are cool [CCC (compact cool core) systems] or warm [CWC (compact warm core) systems] and one hosting extended cores which are warm [EWC (extended warm core) systems]. In the cases we have studied, CCC states are disrupted only after direct collisions with merging cluster cores. This can happen in head-on collisions or during second pericentric passage in off-axis mergers. By the time they are relaxed, our remnant cores have generally been heated to warm core (CWC or EWC) states but subsequently recover CCC states by the end of the simulation. The only case resulting in a long-lived EWC state is a slightly off-axis 3:1 merger for which the majority of shock heating occurs during the accretion of a low-entropy stream formed from the disruption of the secondary's cool core. Since tdyntcool for all our relaxing merger remnant cores, compression prevents their core temperatures from falling until after they relax to the compact states allowed by their remnant central entropies. This naturally explains the population of relaxed CWC systems observed in recent Chandra and XMM–Newton observations with no need to invoke active galactic nuclei feedback. The morphological segregation in the LxTx scaling relation noted by McCarthy et al. is qualitatively reflected in the results of our mergers as well. However, none of the cases we have studied produces systems with sufficiently high central entropies to account for the most underluminous EWC systems observed. Lastly, mergers do not efficiently mix the intracluster medium in our simulations. As a result, merging systems which initially host central metallicity gradients do not yield merger remnants with flat metallicity profiles. Taken together, these results suggest that once formed, compact core systems are remarkably stable against disruption from mergers. It remains to be demonstrated exactly how the sizable observed population of extended core systems was formed.

Keywords: galaxies: clusters: general; intergalactic medium; cosmology: theory; X-rays: general

Journal Article.  11864 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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