Evolution of X-ray cavities

Marcus Brüggen, Evan Scannapieco, Sebastian Heinz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


A wide range of recent observations have shown that active galactic nuclei (AGN) driven cavities may provide the energy source that balances the cooling observed in the centres of 'cool-core' galaxy clusters. One tool for better understanding the physics of these cavities is their observed morphological evolution, which is dependent on such poorly understood properties as the turbulent density field and the impact of magnetic fields. Here, we combine numerical simulations that include subgrid turbulence and software that produces synthetic X-ray observations to examine the evolution of X-ray cavities in the absence of magnetic fields. Our results reveal an anisotropic size evolution of the cavities that is dramatically different from simplified, analytical predictions. These differences highlight some of the key issues that must be accurately quantified when studying AGN-driven cavities, and help to explain why the inferred pV energy in these regions appears to be correlated with their distance from the cluster centre. Interpreting that X-ray observations will require detailed modelling of effects, including mass entrainment, distortion by drag forces and projection. Current limitations do not allow a discrimination between purely hydrodynamic and magnetically dominated models for X-ray cavities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2210-2220
Number of pages11
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 2009


  • Cooling flows
  • Galaxies: clusters: general
  • Hydrodynamics
  • Turbulence
  • X-rays: galaxies: clusters

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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