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Title: Chaotic cold accretion in giant elliptical galaxies heated by AGN cosmic rays
ABSTRACT Black hole feedback plays a central role in shaping the circumgalactic medium (CGM) of elliptical galaxies. We systematically study the impact of plasma physics on the evolution of ellipticals by performing three-dimensional non-ideal magnetohydrodynamic simulations of the interactions of active galactic nucleus (AGN) jets with the CGM including magnetic fields, and cosmic rays (CRs) and their transport processes. We find that the physics of feedback operating on large galactic scales depends very sensitively on plasma physics operating on small scales. Specifically, we demonstrate that (i) in the purely hydrodynamical case, the AGN jets initially maintain the atmospheres in global thermal balance. However, local thermal instability generically leads to the formation of massive cold discs in the vicinity of the central black hole in disagreement with observations; (ii) including weak magnetic fields prevents the formation of the discs because local B-field amplification in the precipitating cold gas leads to strong magnetic breaking, which quickly extracts angular momentum from the accreting clouds. The magnetic fields transform the cold clouds into narrow filaments that do not fall ballistically; (iii) when plasma composition in the AGN jets is dominated by CRs, and CR transport is neglected, the atmospheres exhibit cooling catastrophes due to inefficient heat transfer from the AGN to CGM despite Coulomb/hadronic CR losses being present; (iv) including CR streaming and heating restores agreement with the observations, i.e. cooling catastrophes are prevented and massive cold central discs do not form. The AGN power is reduced as its energy is utilized efficiently.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
Author(s) / Creator(s):
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Date Published:
Journal Name:
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Page Range / eLocation ID:
4065 to 4076
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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