Clusters of galaxies are ideal cosmological probes. They are the largest collapsed objects in the Universe and therefore very sensitive to the structure formation process. The complexity of their internal structure reflects the infall of thousands of smaller objects (e.g. galaxies) and their subsequent destruction or survival within the cluster potential. The complexity of the intra-cluster medium revealed by multi-frequency observations demonstrates that a variety of physical processes is at work and have to be included properly to produce accurate and realistic models. Cosmological, hydrodynamical simulation are extremely challenging as the structures in and around clusters are complex and span a very large dynamic range in scales. Additionally, non-thermal components such as magnetic fields, turbulence and high energy particles keep a record of the processes acting since early times until now. These components play key roles by controlling transport processes inside the cluster atmosphere and therefore have to be understood in detail.
Flying through an evolving galaxy clusterFlying through the hot plasma atmosphere of a galaxy clusters, reveling the richness of substructure and their dynamics during the formation of the largest gravitational bound objects in the universe. When falling into the cluster, the galaxies are losing their gaseous atmosphere (appearing in white), forming comet-like features of gas trails. Due to tidal forces these trails sometimes get deformed into arc-like structures. Also clearly visible are the induced sloshing of the core of the cluster as well as several shock waves traveling through the intra-cluster medium. Color coding the 3D velocity reveals even more the complex dynamics within a forming galaxy cluster. Please click on the images below to see the movie!
Flight through cluster visualizing temperature
g676_130x_u.avi (mp4, 14M)
Flight through cluster visualizing velocity
g676_130x_v.avi (mp4, 18M)
Credit: Klaus Dolag
Simulation code: Gadget-3
Visualization code: Splotch