Galaxy clusters are the largest virialized objects in the Universe and are very sensitive probes of the underlying cosmological framework. They also represent unique laboratories for studying the physical processes which determine the properties of dark matter and baryons. However, galaxy cluster physics is rather complex and poses many puzzling question which need to be answered before we can use them as reliable, high-precision cosmological tools.
Recently, with the advent of the new generation of X-ray telescopes – XMM-Newton and Chandra, as well as of optical surveys such as SDSS, it has emerged that the super-massive black holes harboured in the cores of galaxy clusters are a key ingredient for understanding the formation and properties of galaxy clusters. The impact of central black holes is intricate and requires state-of-the-art numerical simulations to capture the relevant physical processes and their complex interplay.
Researchers at the IoA are developing sophisticated numerical models to follow the evolution of galaxy clusters and their central black holes simultaneously, embedded in self-consistent cosmological simulations. These simulations give us valuable insight into the nature of black hole growth and feedback mechanisms, and at the same time are able to constrain which physical processes are governing the built-up of the galaxy population of galaxy clusters.
Figure credits: Debora Sijacki; the simulations were performed with the massively parallel TREESPH code GADGET-2 in collaboration with Volker Springel.