AAS 200th meeting, Albuquerque, NM, June 2002
Session 41. Clusters of Galaxies, Large Scale Structure
Display, Tuesday, June 4, 2002, 10:00am-6:30pm, SW Exhibit Hall

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[41.09] Are Radio Halos Common in Clusters of Galaxies

J.A. Eilek (NMT), T. Markovic (NRAO/NMT), F.N. Owen (NRAO)

Diffuse synchrotron radio halos are known to exist in several rich clusters of galaxies. The detection of a cluster-wide halo demonstrates that the ICM in that cluster has a non-thermal component, namely, relativistic particles and magnetic field.

Some authors have suggested that radio halos are rare, and that their host clusters are unusual, having recently undergone a strong merger. We propose a different picture. We suspect that halos may be more common than has been thought, and are a simple by-product of cluster 'weather'. The radio and X-ray powers of known halos are roughly correlated. We find that this correlation is to be expected if the ratio of non-thermal pressure to thermal pressure is the same for the ICM in all rich clusters. We expect this to be the case if ongoing minor mergers maintain flows and turbulence in the ICM. We will discuss constraints the radio-Xray correlation imposes on the turbulence, and how the turbulence is driven.

Our speculation can be tested by observations. We are using the VLA at 1.4 GHz to search for radio halos in a set of 30 Abell clusters. They have been chosen based on their X-ray power, angular size and redshift, but irregardless of their structure. We have neither excluded cooling cores nor specialized to clusters undergoing major mergers. All of our targets will be detected at or above a few mJy if they obey the current radio-Xray correlation. Those not detected will give us upper limits which also tell us about the turbulence and re-energization in the ICM of those clusters.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 34
© 2002. The American Astronomical Soceity.