skip to main content

Title: Understanding the radio relic emission in the galaxy cluster MACS J0717.5+3745: Spectral analysis
Radio relics are diffuse, extended synchrotron sources that originate from shock fronts generated during cluster mergers. The massive merging galaxy cluster MACS J0717.5+3745 hosts one of the more complex relics known to date. We present upgraded Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope band 3 (300−500 MHz) and band 4 (550−850 MHz) observations. These new observations, combined with published VLA and the new LOFAR HBA data, allow us to carry out a detailed, high spatial resolution spectral analysis of the relic over a broad range of frequencies. The integrated spectrum of the relic closely follows a power law between 144 MHz and 5.5 GHz with a mean spectral slope α  = −1.16 ± 0.03. Despite the complex morphology of this relic, its subregions and the other isolated filaments also follow power-law behaviors, and show similar spectral slopes. Assuming diffusive shock acceleration, we estimated a dominant Mach number of ∼3.7 for the shocks that make up the relic. A comparison with recent numerical simulations suggests that in the case of radio relics, the slopes of the integrated radio spectra are determined by the Mach number of the accelerating shock, with α nearly constant, namely between −1.13 and −1.17, for Mach numbers 3.5 − 4.0. The spectral shapes inferred from more » spatially resolved regions show curvature, we speculate that the relic is inclined along the line of sight. The locus of points in the simulated color-color plots changes significantly with the relic viewing angle. We conclude that projection effects and inhomogeneities in the shock Mach number dominate the observed spectral properties of the relic in this complex system. Based on the new observations we raise the possibility that the relic and a narrow-angle-tailed radio galaxy are two different structures projected along the same line of sight. « less
Authors:
; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; more » ; ; ; ; « less
Award ID(s):
1714205
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10228483
Journal Name:
Astronomy & Astrophysics
Volume:
646
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
A56
ISSN:
0004-6361
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Context. Radio relics are diffuse extended synchrotron sources that originate from shock fronts induced by galaxy cluster mergers. The particle acceleration mechanism at the shock fronts is still under debate. The galaxy cluster 1RXS J0603.3+4214 hosts one of the most intriguing examples of radio relics, known as the Toothbrush. Aims. In order to understand the mechanism(s) that accelerate(s) relativistic particles in the intracluster medium, we investigated the spectral properties of large-scale diffuse extended sources in the merging galaxy cluster 1RXS J0603.3+4214. Methods. We present new wideband radio continuum observations made with uGMRT and VLA. Our new observations, in combination withmore »previously published data, allowed us to carry out a detailed high-spatial-resolution spectral and curvature analysis over a wide range of frequencies. Results. The integrated spectrum of the Toothbrush closely follows a power law over almost two orders of magnitude in frequency, with a spectral index of −1.16 ± 0.02. We do not find any evidence of spectral steepening below 8 GHz. The subregions of the Toothbrush also exhibit near-perfect power laws and identical spectral slopes, suggesting that the observed spectral index is rather set by the distribution of Mach numbers which may have a similar shape at different parts of the shock front. Indeed, numerical simulations show an intriguing similar spectral index, indicating that the radio spectrum is dominated by the average over the inhomogeneities within the shock, with most of the emission coming from the tail of the Mach number distribution. In contrast to the Toothbrush, the spectra of the fainter relics show a high-frequency steepening. Moreover, the integrated spectrum of the halo also follows a power law from 150 MHz to 3 GHz with a spectral index of −1.16 ± 0.04. We do not find any evidence for spectral curvature, not even in subareas of the halo. This suggest a homogeneous acceleration throughout the cluster volume. Between the “brush” region of the Toothbrush and the halo, the color-color analysis reveals emission that was consistent with an overlap between the two different spectral regions. Conclusions. None of the relic structures, that is, the Toothbrush as a whole or its subregions or the other two fainter relics, show spectral shapes consistent with a single injection of relativistic electrons, such as at a shock, followed by synchrotron aging in a relatively homogeneous environment. Inhomogeneities in some combination of Mach number, magnetic field strength, and projection effects dominate the observed spectral shapes.« less
  2. We present wideband (1 − 6.5 GHz) polarimetric observations, obtained with the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array, of the merging galaxy cluster MACS J0717.5+3745, which hosts one of the most complex known radio relic and halo systems. We used both rotation measure synthesis and QU -fitting to find a reasonable agreement of the results obtained with these methods, particularly when the Faraday distribution is simple and the depolarization is mild. The relic is highly polarized over its entire length (850 kpc), reaching a fractional polarization > 30% in some regions. We also observe a strong wavelength-dependent depolarization for somemore »regions of the relic. The northern part of the relic shows a complex Faraday distribution, suggesting that this region is located in or behind the intracluster medium (ICM). Conversely, the southern part of the relic shows a rotation measure very close to the Galactic foreground, with a rather low Faraday dispersion, indicating very little magnetoionic material intervening along the line of sight. Based on a spatially resolved polarization analysis, we find that the scatter of Faraday depths is correlated with the depolarization, indicating that the tangled magnetic field in the ICM causes the depolarization. We conclude that the ICM magnetic field could be highly turbulent. At the position of a well known narrow-angle-tailed galaxy (NAT), we find evidence of two components that are clearly separated in the Faraday space. The high Faraday dispersion component seems to be associated with the NAT, suggesting the NAT is embedded in the ICM while the southern part of the relic lies in front of it. If true, this implies that the relic and this radio galaxy are not necessarily physically connected and, thus, the relic may, in fact, not be powered by the shock re-acceleration of fossil electrons from the NAT. The magnetic field orientation follows the relic structure indicating a well-ordered magnetic field. We also detected polarized emission in the halo region; however, the absence of significant Faraday rotation and a low value of Faraday dispersion suggests the polarized emission that was previously considered as the part of the halo does, in fact, originate from the shock(s).« less
  3. ABSTRACT We present the results of deep Chandra and XMM–Newton observations of a complex merging galaxy cluster Abell 2256 (A2256) that hosts a spectacular radio relic (RR). The temperature and metallicity maps show clear evidence of a merger between the western subcluster (SC) and the primary cluster (PC). We detect five X-ray surface brightness edges. Three of them near the cluster centre are cold fronts (CFs): CF1 is associated with the infalling SC; CF2 is located in the east of the PC; and CF3 is located to the west of the PC core. The other two edges at cluster outskirtsmore »are shock fronts (SFs): SF1 near the RR in the NW has Mach numbers derived from the temperature and the density jumps, respectively, of MT = 1.62 ± 0.12 and Mρ = 1.23 ± 0.06; SF2 in the SE has MT = 1.54 ± 0.05 and Mρ = 1.16 ± 0.13. In the region of the RR, there is no evidence for the correlation between X-ray and radio substructures, from which we estimate an upper limit for the inverse-Compton emission, and therefore set a lower limit on the magnetic field (∼ 450 kpc from PC centre) of B > 1.0 μG for a single power-law electron spectrum or B > 0.4 μG for a broken power-law electron spectrum. We propose a merger scenario including a PC, an SC, and a group. Our merger scenario accounts for the X-ray edges, diffuse radio features, and galaxy kinematics, as well as projection effects.« less
  4. Context. During their lifetimes, galaxy clusters grow through the accretion of matter from the filaments of the large-scale structure and from mergers with other clusters. These mergers release a large amount of energy into the intracluster medium (ICM) through merger shocks and turbulence. These phenomena are associated with the formation of radio sources known as radio relics and radio halos, respectively. Radio relics and halos are unique proxies for studying the complex properties of these dynamically active regions of clusters and the microphysics of the ICM more generally. Aims. Abell 3667 is a spectacular example of a merging system thatmore »hosts a large pair of radio relics. Due to its proximity ( z  = 0.0553) and large mass, the system enables the study of these sources to a uniquely high level of detail. However, being located at Dec = −56.8°, the cluster could only be observed with a limited number of radio facilities. Methods. We observed Abell 3667 with MeerKAT as part of the MeerKAT Galaxy Cluster Legacy Survey. We used these data to study the large-scale emission of the cluster, including its polarisation and spectral properties. The results were then compared with simulations. Results. We present the most detailed view of the radio relic system in Abell 3667 to date, with a resolution reaching 3 kpc. The relics are filled with a network of filaments with different spectral and polarisation properties that are likely associated with multiple regions of particle acceleration and local enhancements of the magnetic field. Conversely, the magnetic field in the space between filaments has strengths close to what would be expected in unperturbed regions at the same cluster-centric distance. Comparisons with magnetohydrodynamic cosmological and Lagrangian simulations support the idea of filaments as multiple acceleration sites. Our observations also confirm the presence of an elongated radio halo, developed in the wake of the bullet-like sub-cluster that merged from the south-east. Finally, we associate the process of magnetic draping with a thin polarised radio source surrounding the remnant of the bullet’s cool core. Conclusions. Our observations have unveiled the complexity of the interplay between the thermal and non-thermal components in the most active regions of a merging cluster. Both the intricate internal structure of radio relics and the direct detection of magnetic draping around the merging bullet are powerful examples of the non-trivial magnetic properties of the ICM. Thanks to its sensitivity to polarised radiation, MeerKAT will be transformational in the study of these complex phenomena.« less
  5. MeerKAT’s large number (64) of 13.5 m diameter antennas, spanning 8 km with a densely packed 1 km core, create a powerful instrument for wide-area surveys, with high sensitivity over a wide range of angular scales. The MeerKAT Galaxy Cluster Legacy Survey (MGCLS) is a programme of long-track MeerKAT L -band (900−1670 MHz) observations of 115 galaxy clusters, observed for ∼6−10 h each in full polarisation. The first legacy product data release (DR1), made available with this paper, includes the MeerKAT visibilities, basic image cubes at ∼8″ resolution, and enhanced spectral and polarisation image cubes at ∼8″ and 15″ resolutions.more »Typical sensitivities for the full-resolution MGCLS image products range from ∼3−5 μJy beam −1 . The basic cubes are full-field and span 2° × 2°. The enhanced products consist of the inner 1.2° × 1.2° field of view, corrected for the primary beam. The survey is fully sensitive to structures up to ∼10′ scales, and the wide bandwidth allows spectral and Faraday rotation mapping. Relatively narrow frequency channels (209 kHz) are also used to provide H  I mapping in windows of 0 <  z  < 0.09 and 0.19 <  z  < 0.48. In this paper, we provide an overview of the survey and the DR1 products, including caveats for usage. We present some initial results from the survey, both for their intrinsic scientific value and to highlight the capabilities for further exploration with these data. These include a primary-beam-corrected compact source catalogue of ∼626 000 sources for the full survey and an optical and infrared cross-matched catalogue for compact sources in the primary-beam-corrected areas of Abell 209 and Abell S295. We examine dust unbiased star-formation rates as a function of cluster-centric radius in Abell 209, extending out to 3.5 R 200 . We find no dependence of the star-formation rate on distance from the cluster centre, and we observe a small excess of the radio-to-100 μm flux ratio towards the centre of Abell 209 that may reflect a ram pressure enhancement in the denser environment. We detect diffuse cluster radio emission in 62 of the surveyed systems and present a catalogue of the 99 diffuse cluster emission structures, of which 56 are new. These include mini-halos, halos, relics, and other diffuse structures for which no suitable characterisation currently exists. We highlight some of the radio galaxies that challenge current paradigms, such as trident-shaped structures, jets that remain well collimated far beyond their bending radius, and filamentary features linked to radio galaxies that likely illuminate magnetic flux tubes in the intracluster medium. We also present early results from the H  I analysis of four clusters, which show a wide variety of H  I mass distributions that reflect both sensitivity and intrinsic cluster effects, and the serendipitous discovery of a group in the foreground of Abell 3365.« less