The effect of rotation on the thermal instability of stratified galactic atmospheres - I. Local analysis

Emanuele Sobacchi, Mattia C. Sormani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Observations show that (i) multiple gas phases can coexist in the atmospheres of galaxies and clusters; (ii) these atmospheres may be significantly rotating in the inner parts, with typical velocities that approach or even exceed the local sound speed. The thermal instability is a natural candidate to explain the formation of cold structures via condensation of a hotter gas phase. Here we systematically study the effect of rotation on the thermal stability of stratified plane-parallel atmospheres, using both analytical arguments and numerical simulations. We find that the formation of cold structures starting from small isobaric perturbations is enhanced in the regions where the rotation of the system is dynamically important (i.e. when the rotational velocity becomes comparable to the sound speed). In particular, the threshold value of the ratio between the cooling and dynamical time tcool/tdyn below which condensations can form is increased by a factor of up to ∼10 in the presence of significant rotation. We briefly discuss the implications of our results for galaxies and clusters.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)205-214
Number of pages10
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - 11 Jun 2019


  • galaxies: clusters: general
  • galaxies: clusters: intracluster medium
  • galaxies: evolution
  • galaxies: formation
  • galaxies: haloes
  • instabilities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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