VORTICITY, SHOCKS, and MAGNETIC FIELDS in SUBSONIC, ICM-LIKE TURBULENCE

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Abstract

We analyze data from high resolution simulations of the generation of compressible, MHD turbulence with properties chosen to resemble conditions in galaxy clusters. In particular, the flow is driven to have turbulence Mach numbert ∼ 1 2 in an isothermal medium with an initially very weak, uniform seed magnetic field (β = Pg/PB = 106). Since cluster turbulence is likely to result from a mix of sheared (solenoidal) and compressive forcing processes, we examine the distinct turbulence properties for both cases. In one set of simulations velocity forcing is entirely solenoidal (∇ · δu = 0), while in the other it is entirely compressive (∇ × δu = 0). Both cases develop a mixture of solenoidal and compressive turbulent motions, since each generates the other. The development of compressive turbulent motions leads to shocks, even when the turbulence is solenoidally forced and subsonic. Shocks, in turn, produce and amplify vorticity, which is especially important in compressively forced turbulence. To clarify those processes we include a pair of appendices that look in detail at vorticity evolution in association with shocks. From our simulation analyses we find that magnetic fields amplified to near saturation levels in predominantly solenoidal turbulence can actually enhance vorticity on small scales by concentrating and stabilizing shear. The properties, evolution rates, and relative contributions of the kinetic and magnetic turbulent elements depend strongly on the character of the forcing. Specifically, shocks are stronger, but vorticity evolution and magnetic field amplification are slower and weaker when the turbulence is compressively forced. We identify a simple relation to estimate characteristic shock strengths in terms of the turbulence Mach number and the character of the forcing. Our results will be helpful in understanding flow motions in galaxy clusters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number93
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume810
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 10 2015

Keywords

  • galaxies: clusters: intracluster medium
  • intergalactic medium
  • magnetic fields
  • magnetohydrodynamics (MHD)
  • turbulence

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