The case for electron re-acceleration at galaxy cluster shocks

Reinout J. van Weeren, Felipe Andrade-Santos, William A. Dawson, Nathan Golovich, Dharam V. Lal, Hyesung Kang, Dongsu Ryu, Marcus Brüggen, Georgiana A. Ogrean, William R. Forman, Christine Jones, Vinicius M. Placco, Rafael M. Santucci, David Wittman, M. James Jee, Ralph P. Kraft, David Sobral, Andra Stroe, Kevin Fogarty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


On the largest scales, the Universe consists of voids and filaments making up the cosmic web. Galaxy clusters are located at the knots in this web, at the intersection of filaments. Clusters grow through accretion from these large-scale filaments and by mergers with other clusters and groups. In a growing number of galaxy clusters, elongated Mpc-size radio sources have been found, so-called radio relics [1, 2]. These relics are thought to trace relativistic electrons in the intracluster plasma accelerated by low-Mach number collisionless shocks generated by cluster-cluster merger events [3]. A longstanding problem is how low-Mach number shocks can accelerate electrons so efficiently to explain the observed radio relics. Here we report on the discovery of a direct connection between a radio relic and a radio galaxy in the merging galaxy cluster Abell 3411-3412. This discovery indicates that fossil relativistic electrons from active galactic nuclei are re-accelerated at cluster shocks. It also implies that radio galaxies play an important role in governing the non-thermal component of the intracluster medium in merging clusters.

Original languageEnglish
JournalUnknown Journal
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Jan 5

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General

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