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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 some 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 magneticmore »
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 frommore »