Subgrid modeling of AGN-driven turbulence in galaxy clusters

Evan Scannapieco, Marcus Brüggen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


Hot, underdense bubbles powered by active galactic nuclei (AGNs) are likely to play a key role in halting catastrophic cooling in the centers of cool-core galaxy clusters. We present three-dimensional simulations that capture the evolution of such bubbles, using an adaptive mesh hydrodynamic code, FLASH3, to which we have added a subgrid model of turbulence and mixing. While pure hydro simulations indicate that AGN bubbles are disrupted into resolution-dependent pockets of underdense gas, proper modeling of subgrid turbulence indicates that this is a poor approximation to a turbulent cascade that continues far beyond the resolution limit. Instead, Rayleigh-Taylor instabilities act to effectively mix the heated region with its surroundings, while at the same time preserving it as a coherent structure, consistent with observations. Thus, bubbles are transformed into hot clouds of mixed material as they move outward in the hydrostatic intracluster medium (ICM), much as large airbursts lead to a distinctive "mushroom cloud" structure as they rise in the hydrostatic atmosphere of Earth. Properly capturing the evolution of such clouds has important implications for many ICM properties. In particular, it significantly changes the impact of AGNs on the distribution of entropy and metals in cool-core clusters such as Perseus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)927-947
Number of pages21
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 20 2008


  • Cooling flows
  • Hydrodynamics
  • X-rays: galaxies: clusters

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Subgrid modeling of AGN-driven turbulence in galaxy clusters'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this