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Massive molecular gas flows in brightest cluster galaxies

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The central giant elliptical galaxies in the galaxy clusters A1664 and A1835 both harbour more than 10 billion solar masses of molecular gas and starbursts at levels not seen except in the early Universe. The molecular gas, which probably formed from gas cooling out of the clusters’ hot atmospheres, may be fuelling powerful supermassive black hole outbursts observed as expanding radio bubbles, shocks and gas outflows. Our ALMA Early Science observations of the molecular gas in these relatively nearby systems show a massive gas inflow settling into a disk around the nucleus and spectacular 10 billion solar mass outflows driven out by the radio jets. This ‘radio-mode’ feedback in elliptical galaxies now appears to operate on essentially all temperature and density phases of the surrounding gas and may be a key mechanism governing galaxy growth and that of the supermassive black holes lurking at their centres.

This talk is part of the Astrophysics Seminars series.

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