Thermal Conduction and Multiphase Gas in Cluster Cores

We examine the role of thermal conduction and magnetic fields in cores of galaxy clusters through global simulations of the intracluster medium (ICM). In particular, we study the influence of thermal conduction, both isotropic and anisotropic, on the condensation of multiphase gas in cluster cores. Previous hydrodynamic simulations have shown that cold gas condenses out of the hot ICM in thermal balance only when the ratio of the cooling time ($t_{\rm cool}$) and the free-fall time ($t_{\rm ff}$) is less than $\approx 10$. Since thermal conduction is significant in the ICM and it suppresses local cooling at small scales, it is imperative to include thermal conduction in such studies. We find that anisotropic (along local magnetic field lines) thermal conduction does not influence the condensation criterion for a general magnetic geometry, even if thermal conductivity is large. However, with isotropic thermal conduction cold gas condenses only if conduction is suppressed (by a factor $\lesssim 0.3$) with respect to the Spitzer value.

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Date added: Thu, 10 Oct 13