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Chandra Observations of Cold Fronts in Cluster of Galaxies

By P. Mazzotta, M. Markevitch, A. Vikhlinin and W. R. Forman


High-resolution Chandra images of several clusters of galaxies reveal sharp, edge-like discontinuities in their gas density. The gas temperature is higher in front of the edge where the density is low, corresponding to approximately continuous pressure across the edge. This new phenomenon was called “cold fronts”, to contrast it to shock fronts that should look similar in X-ray images but where the temperature should jump in the opposite direction. The first cold fronts were discovered in merging clusters, where they appear to delineate the boundaries of dense cool subcluster remnants moving through and being stripped by the surrounding shockheated gas. Later, Chandra revealed cold fronts in the central regions of several apparently relaxed clusters. To explain the gas bulk motion in these clusters, we propose either a peculiar cluster formation history that resulted in an oscillating core, or gas sloshing (without the involvement of the underlying dark matter peak) caused by past subcluster infall or central AGN activity. We review these observations and discuss their implications for the X-ray cluster mass estimates. 1

Year: 2001
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