Minor merger-induced cold fronts in Abell 2142 and RXJ1720.1+2638

Matt S. Owers*, Paul E J Nulsen, Warrick J. Couch

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Citations (Scopus)


We present evidence for the existence of substructure in the "relaxed appearing" cold front clusters Abell2142 and RXJ1720.1+2638. The detection of these substructures was made possible by comprehensive multi-object optical spectroscopy obtained with the Hectospec and DEep Imaging Multi-Object Spectrograph instruments on the 6.5m MMT and 10m KeckII telescope, respectively. These observations produced 956 and 400 spectroscopically confirmed cluster members within a projected radius of 3Mpc from the centers of A2142 and RXJ1720.1+2638, respectively. The substructure manifests itself as local peaks in the spatial distribution of member galaxies and also as regions of localized velocity substructure. For both Abell2142 and RXJ1720.1+2638, we identify group-scale substructures which, when considering the morphology of the cold fronts and the time since pericentric passage of a perturber estimated from the cold front radii, could plausibly have perturbed the cluster cores and generated the cold fronts observed in Chandra images. The results presented here are consistent with cold fronts being the result of merger activity and with cold fronts in relaxed appearing clusters being due to minor merger activity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number122
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 10 Nov 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • galaxies: clusters: individual (Abell 2142, RXJ1720.1+2638)
  • X-rays: galaxies: clusters


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