Plasma instabilities in the context of current helium sedimentation models: dynamical implications for the ICM in galaxy clusters.
BERLOK T. and PESSAH M.E.
Abstract (from CDS):
Understanding whether Helium can sediment to the core of galaxy clusters is important for a number of problems in cosmology and astrophysics. All current models addressing this question are one-dimensional and do not account for the fact that magnetic fields can effectively channel ions and electrons, leading to anisotropic transport of momentum, heat, and particle diffusion in the weakly collisional intracluster medium (ICM). This anisotropy can lead to a wide variety of instabilities, which could be relevant for understanding the dynamics of heterogeneous media. In this paper, we consider the radial temperature and composition profiles as obtained from a state-of-the-art Helium sedimentation model and analyze its stability properties. We find that the associated radial profiles are unstable to different kinds of instabilities depending on the magnetic field orientation at all radii. The fastest growing modes are usually related to generalizations of the magnetothermal instability (MTI) and the heat-flux-driven buoyancy instability which operate in heterogeneous media. We find that the effect of sedimentation is to increase (decrease) the predicted growth rates in the inner (outer) cluster region. The unstable modes grow quickly compared to the sedimentation timescale. This suggests that the composition gradients as inferred from sedimentation models, which do not fully account for the anisotropic character of the weakly collisional environment, might not be very robust. Our results emphasize the subtleties involved in understanding the gas dynamics of the ICM and argue for the need of a comprehensive approach to address the issue of Helium sedimentation beyond current models.