Deep high-resolution X-ray spectra from cool-core clusters

J. S. Sanders*, A. C. Fabian, K. A. Frank, J. R. Peterson, H. R. Russell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


We examine deep XMM-Newton Reflection Grating Spectrometer (RGS) spectra from the cores of three X-ray bright cool-core galaxy clusters, Abell 262, Abell 3581 and HCG 62. Each of the RGS spectra shows Fe xvii emission lines indicating the presence of gas around 0.5 keV. There is no evidence for O vii emission which would imply gas at still cooler temperatures. The range in detected gas temperature in these objects is a factor of 3.7, 5.6 and 2 for Abell 262, Abell 3581 and HCG 62, respectively. The coolest detected gas only has a volume filling fraction of 6 and 3 per cent for Abell 262 and Abell 3581, but is likely to be volume filling in HCG 62. Chandra spatially resolved spectroscopy confirms the low volume filling fractions of the cool gas in Abell 262 and Abell 3581, indicating this cool gas exists as cold blobs. Any volume heating mechanism aiming to prevent cooling would overheat the surroundings of the cool gas by a factor of 4. If the gas is radiatively cooling below 0.5 keV, it is cooling at a rate at least an order of magnitude below that at higher temperatures in Abell 262 and Abell 3581 and two orders of magnitude lower in HCG 62. The gas may be cooling non-radiatively through mixing in these cool blobs, where the energy released by cooling is emitted in the infrared. We find very good agreement between smooth particle inference modelling of the cluster and conventional spectral fitting. Comparing the temperature distribution from this analysis with that expected in a cooling flow, there appears to be an even larger break below 0.5 keV as compared with previous empirical descriptions of the deviations of cooling flow models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)127-144
Number of pages18
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2010


  • Cooling flows
  • Intergalactic medium
  • X-rays: galaxies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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