Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc., 375, 77-91 (2007/February-2)
Radio signature of cosmological structure formation shocks.
HOEFT M. and BRUGGEN M.
Abstract (from CDS):
In the course of the formation of cosmological structures, large shock waves are generated in the intracluster medium (ICM). In analogy to processes in supernova remnants, these shock waves may generate a significant population of relativistic electrons which, in turn, produce observable synchrotron emission. The extended radio relics found at the periphery of several clusters and possibly also a fraction of radio halo emission may have this origin. Here, we derive an analytic expression for (i) the total radio power in the downstream region of a cosmological shock wave, and (ii) the width of the radio-emitting region. These expressions predict a spectral slope close to -1 for strong shocks. Moderate shocks, such as those produced in mergers between clusters of galaxies, lead to a somewhat steeper spectrum. Moreover, we predict an upper limit for the radio power of cosmological shocks. Comparing our results to the radio relics in Abell115, 2256 and 3667, we conclude that the magnetic field in these relics is typically at a level of 0.1µG. Magnetic fields in the ICM are presumably generated by the shocks themselves; this allows us to calculate the radio emission as a function of the cluster temperature. The resulting emissions agree very well with the radio power-temperature relation found for cluster haloes. Finally, we show that cosmic accretion shocks generate less radio emission than merger shock waves. The latter may, however, be detected with upcoming radio telescopes.