A Universal Entropy Profile for the Hot Atmospheres of Galaxies and Clusters within R 2500

Iu V. Babyk, B. R. McNamara, P. E.J. Nulsen, H. R. Russell, A. N. Vantyghem, M. T. Hogan, F. A. Pulido

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25 Citations (Scopus)


We present atmospheric gas entropy profiles for 40 early-type galaxies and 110 clusters spanning several decades of halo mass, atmospheric gas mass, radio jet power, and galaxy type. We show that within ∼0.1R 2500 the entropy profiles of low-mass systems, including ellipticals, brightest cluster galaxies, and spiral galaxies, scale approximately as K ∝ R 2/3. Beyond ∼0.1R 2500 entropy profiles are slightly shallower than the K ∝ R 1.1 profile expected from gravitational collapse alone, indicating that heating by active galactic nuclei (AGN) feedback extends well beyond the central galaxy. We show that the K ∝ R 2/3 entropy profile shape indicates that thermally unstable cooling is balanced by heating where the inner cooling and free-fall timescales approach a constant ratio. Hot atmospheres of elliptical galaxies have a higher rate of heating per gas particle compared to those of central cluster galaxies. This excess heating may explain why some central cluster galaxies are forming stars while most early-type galaxies have experienced no significant star formation for billions of years. We show that the entropy profiles of six lenticular and spiral galaxies follow the R 2/3 form. The continuity between central galaxies in clusters, giant ellipticals, and spirals suggests perhaps that processes heating the atmospheres of elliptical and brightest cluster galaxies are also active in spiral galaxies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number39
JournalThe Astrophysical Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jul 2018

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