X-ray and optical filaments in M87

William B. Sparks, Megan Donahue, Andrés Jordán, Laura Ferrarese, Patrick Côté

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54 Scopus citations


We compare a very deep X-ray image of M87, at the center of the Virgo Cluster, to high-quality optical images of the low-excitation emission-line gas in the same region. There are striking coincidences of detail between the two. We explore the possibility that this represents a thermal interaction between hot gas at 107 K and warm gas at 104 K. We find that two temperatures are present in the X-ray gas, with the lower more prevalent in the vicinity of the optical filaments. Electron conduction from the hot phase to the cooler one provides a quantitatively acceptable energy source for the optical filaments, and we show additionally that it can do so for the brightest X-ray cluster, Perseus. If operative, conduction in the presence of gas-rich galaxy mergers may explain the presence of "cool cores" in clusters of galaxies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)294-301
Number of pages8
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1 I
StatePublished - 20 May 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Galaxies: ISM
  • Galaxies: individual (M87)
  • X-rays: galaxies: clusters


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