Journal Article

On the exclusion of intracluster plasma from active galactic nuclei-blown bubbles

Edward C. D. Pope

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 404, issue 1, pages 451-457
Published in print May 2010 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online April 2010 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
On the exclusion of intracluster plasma from active galactic nuclei-blown bubbles

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Simple arguments suggest that magnetic fields should be aligned tangentially to the surface of an AGN-blown bubble. If this is the case, charged particles from the fully ionized intracluster medium (ICM) will be prevented, ordinarily, from crossing the boundary by the Lorentz force. However, recent observations indicate that thermal material may occupy up to 50 per cent of the volume of some bubbles. Given the effect of the Lorentz force, the thermal content must then be attributed to one, or a combination, of the following processes: (i) the entrainment of thermal gas into the active galactic nuclei (AGN) outflow that inflated the bubble; (ii) rapid diffusion across the magnetic field lines at the ICM/bubble interface; (iii) magnetic reconnection events which transfer thermal material across the ICM/bubble boundary. Unless the AGN outflow behaves as a magnetic tower jet, entrainment may be significant and could explain the observed thermal content of bubbles. Alternatively, the cross-field diffusion coefficient required for the ICM to fill a typical bubble is ∼1016 cm2 s−1, which is anomalously high compared to predictions from turbulent diffusion models. Finally, the mass transfer rate due to magnetic reconnection is uncertain, but significant for plausible reconnection rates. We conclude that entrainment into the outflow and mass transfer due to magnetic reconnection events are probably the most significant sources of thermal content in AGN-blown bubbles.

Keywords: diffusion; magnetic fields; MHD; plasmas; cooling flows; galaxies: jets

Journal Article.  5280 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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