Hot Gas Morphology, Thermal Structure, and the AGN Connection in Normal Elliptical Galaxies

  • Thomas S. StatlerEmail author
Part of the Astrophysics and Space Science Library book series (ASSL, volume 378)


Quantitative morphological studies of the hot ISM in normal elliptical galaxies are in their early explorative stages. Such studies have the potential to reveal much about the mass distributions in these systems and the roles of active galactic nuclei and environmental interactions in their evolution. If the hot ISM were precisely in hydrostatic equilibrium, measurements of gas temperature, density, and morphology could reveal not only a galaxy’s radial mass profile, but the shape of the total gravitating mass. However, the available evidence from Chandraobservations indicates that this precise degree of equilibrium is not a characteristic of the general population of ellipticals. Instead, gas morphologies are seen to be nearly always disturbed; the degree of disturbance is correlated with indicators of nuclear activity and with signs of interaction with the intergalactic medium. The systems with more nuclear activity are also characterized by temperature profiles that increase outward in the main stellar bodies, at moderate radii. These correlations indicate an important, but still ambiguous, role for active galactic nuclei in determining both the thermal properties and the morphologies of the hot gas. Future progress in understanding and interpreting gas morphology will require the development of more sophisticated, and more stringently tested, quantitative measures of shape and asymmetry.


Dark Matter Galaxy Cluster Stellar Mass Hydrostatic Equilibrium Elliptical Galaxy 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Support for this work was provided by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) through Chandraawards G01-2094X and AR3-4011X, issued by the ChandraX-Ray Observatory Center, which is operated by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory for and on behalf of NASA under contract NAS8-39073, and by National Science Foundation grants AST-0407152 and AST-0708284. The writing of this chapter was conducted under an Independent Research/Development plan while the author was serving on detail to NSF under the Intergovernmental Personnel Act; any opinion, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this chapter are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. Finally, the author appreciates the hospitality of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, upon whose trains much of this chapter was written.


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Copyright information

© Springer New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Astrophysical InstituteOhio UniversityAthensUSA

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