Constraints on thermal conductivity in the merging cluster Abell 2146

A. Richard-Laferrière*, H. R. Russell, A. C. Fabian, U. Chadayammuri, C. S. Reynolds, R. E. A. Canning, A. C. Edge, J. Hlavacek-Larrondo, L. J. King, B. R. McNamara, P. E. J. Nulsen, J. S. Sanders

*Corresponding author for this work

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The cluster of galaxies Abell 2146 is undergoing a major merger and is an ideal cluster to study intracluster medium (ICM) physics, as it has a simple geometry with the merger axis in the plane of the sky, its distance allows us to resolve features across the relevant scales and its temperature lies within Chandra’s sensitivity. Gas from the cool core of the subcluster has been partially stripped into a tail of gas, which gives a unique opportunity to look at the survival of such gas and determine the rate of conduction in the ICM. We use deep 2.4-Ms Chandra observations of Abell 2146 to produce a high spatial resolution map of the temperature structure along a plume in the ram-pressure stripped tail, described by a partial cone, which is distinguishable from the hot ambient gas. Previous studies of conduction in the ICM typically rely on estimates of the survival time for key structures, such as cold fronts. Here we use detailed hydrodynamical simulations of Abell 2146 to determine the flow velocities along the stripped plume and measure the time-scale of the temperature increase along its length. We find that conduction must be highly suppressed by multiple orders of magnitude compared to the Spitzer rate, as the energy used is about 1 per cent of the energy available. We discuss magnetic draping around the core as a possible mechanism for suppressing conduction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6205-6213
Number of pages9
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number4
Early online date12 Oct 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2023


  • conduction
  • galaxies: clusters: individual: Abell 2146
  • galaxies: clusters: intergalactic medium
  • galaxies: magnetic fields
  • X-rays: galaxies: clusters
  • UKRI
  • STFC
  • ST/P00541/1

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