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Physics  1999 

The Effects of Gas Dynamics, Cooling, Star Formation, and Numerical Resolution in Simulations of Cluster Formation

DOI: 10.1086/308954

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We present the analysis of a suite of simulations of a Virgo mass galaxy cluster. Undertaken within the framework of standard cold dark matter cosmology, these simulations were performed at differing resolutions and with increasingly complex physical processes, with the goal of identifying the effects of each on the evolution of the cluster. We focus on the cluster at the present epoch and examine properties including the radial distributions of density, temperature, entropy and velocity. We also map `observable' projected properties such as the surface mass density, X-ray surface brightness and SZ signature. We identify significant differences between the simulations, which highlights the need for caution when comparing numerical simulations to observations of galaxy clusters. While resolution affects the inner density profile in dark matter simulations, the addition of a gaseous component, especially one that cools and forms stars, affects the entire cluster. We conclude that both resolution and included physical processes play an important role in simulating the formation and evolution of galaxy clusters. Therefore, physical inferences drawn from simulations that do not include a gaseous component that can cool and form stars present a poor representation of reality. (Abridged)


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