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Driving massive molecular gas flows in central cluster galaxies with AGN feedback

Russell, HR; McNamara, BR; Fabian, AC; Nulsen, PEJ; Combes, F; Edge, AC; Madar, M; Olivares, V; Salomé, P; Vantyghem, AN

Driving massive molecular gas flows in central cluster galaxies with AGN feedback Thumbnail


HR Russell

BR McNamara

AC Fabian

PEJ Nulsen

F Combes

M Madar

V Olivares

P Salomé

AN Vantyghem


We present an analysis of new and archival ALMA observations of molecular gas in 12 central cluster galaxies. We examine emerging trends in molecular filament morphology and gas velocities to understand their origins. Molecular gas masses in these systems span 109−−1011M⊙⁠, far more than most gas-rich galaxies. ALMA images reveal a distribution of morphologies from filamentary to disc-dominated structures. Circumnuclear discs on kiloparsec scales appear rare. In most systems, half to nearly all of the molecular gas lies in filamentary structures with masses of a few ×108--10M⊙ that extend radially several to several tens of kpc. In nearly all cases the molecular gas velocities lie far below stellar velocity dispersions, indicating youth, transience, or both. Filament bulk velocities lie far below the galaxy’s escape and free-fall speeds indicating they are bound and being decelerated. Most extended molecular filaments surround or lie beneath radio bubbles inflated by the central active galactic nuclei (AGNs). Smooth velocity gradients found along the filaments are consistent with gas flowing along streamlines surrounding these bubbles. Evidence suggests most of the molecular clouds formed from low entropy X-ray gas that became thermally unstable and cooled when lifted by the buoyant bubbles. Uplifted gas will stall and fall back to the galaxy in a circulating flow. The distribution in morphologies from filament to disc-dominated sources therefore implies slowly evolving molecular structures driven by the episodic activity of the AGNs.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 17, 2019
Online Publication Date Sep 30, 2019
Publication Date Dec 31, 2019
Deposit Date Oct 31, 2019
Publicly Available Date Nov 7, 2019
Journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Print ISSN 0035-8711
Electronic ISSN 1365-2966
Publisher Royal Astronomical Society
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 490
Issue 3
Pages 3025-3045
Public URL
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Published Journal Article (8.5 Mb)

Copyright Statement
This article has been accepted for publication in the Monthly notices of the Royal Astronomical Society ©: 2019 The Author(s). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.

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