Courtesy of Nature Astronomy
An image created by astrophysicists at the University of Alabama at Huntsville (UAH) who conducted pioneering research to quantify the processes involved in gas mixing in the tails of galaxies stripped of their gas envelopes has been featured on the cover of the February issue of the journal “Natural Astronomy”.
The issue also features an article on findings written by Dr. Ming Sun, members of his UAH postdoctoral research team, Dr. Chong Ge and Dr. Rongxin Luo and other collaborators, and mentions graduate student in physics Sunil Laudari, who helped with the image. natural astronomy originally published the document online in December.
The processes by which gas tails mix with the surrounding intracluster medium are poorly understood, says Dr. Sun, an associate professor of physics and astronomy at UAH, part of the University of Alabama system. .
Galaxies hover in clusters at high speeds of 1,000 to 2,000 kilometers per second (km/s). As they travel inside clusters, the drag force of gas between cluster galaxies, called the intracluster medium, removes cold gas from the galaxies. This process leaves behind long trails of purified gas, somewhat similar to airplane contrails and comet tails.
“These contrails, initially composed of cold gas from galaxies, will mix with the warm intracluster medium to produce multiphase gas at different temperatures,” says Dr Sun. “We all experience a mixture of cold and hot gases and fluids in everyday life, such as when we pour cold milk into hot coffee, or when cold air meets warm air in our atmosphere.”
Michael Mercier | UAH
The transfer and mixing of energy in the multiphase medium is an open question in astrophysics that is important for the formation and evolution of galaxies. Since Dr Sun discovered the X-ray tail behind ESO 137-001 in 2005, the full story of these interactions has evolved as scientists began to get better and better data with new telescopes.
X-ray observations were made by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Telescope and the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton. Optical observations were made by the European Southern Observatory Very Large Telescope, the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan Subaru Telescope, and the Southern Astrophysical Research telescope.