We study the impact of relatively weak active galactic nucleus (AGN) feedback on the interstellar medium (ISM) of intermediate and massive elliptical galaxies. We find that the AGN activity, while globally heating the ISM, naturally stimulates some degree of hot gas cooling on scales of several kpc. This process generates the persistent presence of a cold ISM phase, with mass ranging between 104 and ≳ 5 × 107 M⊙, where the latter value is appropriate for group centred, massive galaxies. Widespread cooling occurs where the ratio of cooling to free-fall time before the activation of the AGN feedback satisfies tcool/tff ≲ 70, that is we find a less restrictive threshold than commonly quoted in the literature. This process helps explaining the body of observations of cold gas (both ionized and neutral/molecular) in Ellipticals and, perhaps, the residual star formation detected in many early-type galaxies. The amount and distribution of the off-centre cold gas vary irregularly with time. The cold ISM velocity field is irregular, initially sharing the (outflowing) turbulent hot gas motion. Typical velocity dispersions of the cold gas lie in the range 100-200 km s-1. Freshly generated cold gas often forms a cold outflow and can appear kinematically misaligned with respect to the stars. We also follow the dust evolution in the hot and cold gas. We find that the internally generated cold ISM has a very low dust content, with representative values of the dust-to-gas ratio of 10-4-10-5. Therefore, this cold gas can escape detection in the traditional dust-absorption maps.

AGN-stimulated cooling of hot gas in elliptical galaxies

BRIGHENTI, FABRIZIO
2015

Abstract

We study the impact of relatively weak active galactic nucleus (AGN) feedback on the interstellar medium (ISM) of intermediate and massive elliptical galaxies. We find that the AGN activity, while globally heating the ISM, naturally stimulates some degree of hot gas cooling on scales of several kpc. This process generates the persistent presence of a cold ISM phase, with mass ranging between 104 and ≳ 5 × 107 M⊙, where the latter value is appropriate for group centred, massive galaxies. Widespread cooling occurs where the ratio of cooling to free-fall time before the activation of the AGN feedback satisfies tcool/tff ≲ 70, that is we find a less restrictive threshold than commonly quoted in the literature. This process helps explaining the body of observations of cold gas (both ionized and neutral/molecular) in Ellipticals and, perhaps, the residual star formation detected in many early-type galaxies. The amount and distribution of the off-centre cold gas vary irregularly with time. The cold ISM velocity field is irregular, initially sharing the (outflowing) turbulent hot gas motion. Typical velocity dispersions of the cold gas lie in the range 100-200 km s-1. Freshly generated cold gas often forms a cold outflow and can appear kinematically misaligned with respect to the stars. We also follow the dust evolution in the hot and cold gas. We find that the internally generated cold ISM has a very low dust content, with representative values of the dust-to-gas ratio of 10-4-10-5. Therefore, this cold gas can escape detection in the traditional dust-absorption maps.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11585/547988
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