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Keywords:

  • hydrodynamics;
  • turbulence;
  • methods: analytical;
  • methods: numerical;
  • galaxies: evolution;
  • galaxies: interactions

ABSTRACT

The existence of an extended hot gaseous corona surrounding clusters, groups and massive galaxies is well established by observational evidence and predicted by current theories of galaxy formation. When a small galaxy collides with a larger one, their coronae are the first to interact, producing disturbances that remove gas from the smaller system and settle it into the corona of the larger one. For a Milky Way sized galaxy merging into a low-mass group, ram pressure stripping and the Kelvin–Helmholtz instability are the most relevant of these disturbances. We argue that the turbulence generated by the latter mixes the material of both coronae in the wake of the orbiting satellite creating a ‘warm phase’ mixture with a cooling time a factor of several shorter than that of the ambient intragroup gas. We reach this conclusion using analytic estimates, as well as adiabatic and dissipative high-resolution numerical simulations of a spherical corona subject to the ablation process of a constant velocity wind with uniform density and temperature. Although this is a preliminary analysis, our results are promising and we speculate that the mixture could potentially trigger in situ star formation and/or be accreted into the central galaxy as a cold gas flow resulting in a new mode of star formation in galaxy groups and clusters.