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  1. 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 »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
  2. 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 »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
  3. Abstract We present the first Faraday rotation measure (RM) grid study of an individual low-mass cluster—the Fornax cluster—which is presently undergoing a series of mergers. Exploiting commissioning data for the POlarisation Sky Survey of the Universe’s Magnetism (POSSUM) covering a ${\sim}34$ square degree sky area using the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP), we achieve an RM grid density of ${\sim}25$ RMs per square degree from a 280-MHz band centred at 887 MHz, which is similar to expectations for forthcoming GHz-frequency ${\sim}3\pi$ -steradian sky surveys. These data allow us to probe the extended magnetoionic structure of the cluster and its surroundings in unprecedented detail. We find that the scatter in the Faraday RM of confirmed background sources is increased by $16.8\pm2.4$ rad m −2 within 1 $^\circ$ (360 kpc) projected distance to the cluster centre, which is 2–4 times larger than the spatial extent of the presently detectable X-ray-emitting intracluster medium (ICM). The mass of the Faraday-active plasma is larger than that of the X-ray-emitting ICM and exists in a density regime that broadly matches expectations for moderately dense components of the Warm-Hot Intergalactic Medium. We argue that forthcoming RM grids from both targeted and survey observations may be amore »singular probe of cosmic plasma in this regime. The morphology of the global Faraday depth enhancement is not uniform and isotropic but rather exhibits the classic morphology of an astrophysical bow shock on the southwest side of the main Fornax cluster, and an extended, swept-back wake on the northeastern side. Our favoured explanation for these phenomena is an ongoing merger between the main cluster and a subcluster to the southwest. The shock’s Mach angle and stand-off distance lead to a self-consistent transonic merger speed with Mach 1.06. The region hosting the Faraday depth enhancement also appears to show a decrement in both total and polarised radio emission compared to the broader field. We evaluate cosmic variance and free-free absorption by a pervasive cold dense gas surrounding NGC 1399 as possible causes but find both explanations unsatisfactory, warranting further observations. Generally, our study illustrates the scientific returns that can be expected from all-sky grids of discrete sources generated by forthcoming all-sky radio surveys.« less
  4. Abstract The Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) is an open access telescope dedicated to studying the low-frequency (80–300 MHz) southern sky. Since beginning operations in mid-2013, the MWA has opened a new observational window in the southern hemisphere enabling many science areas. The driving science objectives of the original design were to observe 21 cm radiation from the Epoch of Reionisation (EoR), explore the radio time domain, perform Galactic and extragalactic surveys, and monitor solar, heliospheric, and ionospheric phenomena. All together $60+$ programs recorded 20 000 h producing 146 papers to date. In 2016, the telescope underwent a major upgrade resulting in alternating compact and extended configurations. Other upgrades, including digital back-ends and a rapid-response triggering system, have been developed since the original array was commissioned. In this paper, we review the major results from the prior operation of the MWA and then discuss the new science paths enabled by the improved capabilities. We group these science opportunities by the four original science themes but also include ideas for directions outside these categories.