Quasi-spiral solution to the mixed intracluster medium and the universal entropy profile of galaxy clusters

Uri Keshet, Itay Raveh, Arka Ghosh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Well-resolved galaxy clusters often show a large-scale quasi-spiral structure in deprojected density ρ and temperature T fields, delineated by a tangential discontinuity known as a cold front, superimposed on a universal radial entropy profile with a linear K(r) ∝ Tρ−2/3 ∝ r adiabat. We show that a spiral structure provides a natural quasi-stationary solution for the mixed intracluster medium (ICM), introducing a modest pressure spiral that confines the locally buoyant or heavy plasma phases. The solution persists in the presence of uniform or differential rotation, and can accommodate both an inflow and an outflow. Hydrodynamic adiabatic simulations with perturbations that deposit angular momentum and mix the plasma thus asymptote to a self-similar spiral structure. We find similar spirals in Eulerian and Lagrangian simulations of 2D and 3D, merger and offset, clusters. The discontinuity surface is given in spherical coordinates {r, θ, φ} by φ(r, θ) ∝ Φ(r), where Φ is the gravitational potential, combining a trailing spiral in the equatorial (θ = π/2) plane and semicircles perpendicular to the plane, in resemblance of a snail shell. A local convective instability can develop between spiral windings, driving a modified global instability in sublinear K(r) regions; evolved spirals thus imprint the observed K ∝ r onto the ICM even after they dissipate. The spiral structure brings hot and cold phases to close proximity, suggesting that the observed fast outflows could sustain the structure even in the presence of radiative cooling.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4991-5012
Number of pages22
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2023


  • X-rays: galaxies: clusters
  • galaxies: clusters: general
  • galaxies: clusters: intracluster medium
  • hydrodynamics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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