EDP Sciences
Free Access
Volume 424, Number 2, September III 2004
Page(s) 429 - 446
Section Cosmology (including clusters of galaxies)
DOI https://doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20040191

A&A 424, 429-446 (2004)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20040191

Magnetic fields and Faraday rotation in clusters of galaxies

M. Murgia1, 2, F. Govoni1, 3, L. Feretti1, G. Giovannini1, 3, D. Dallacasa1, 3, R. Fanti1, 4, G. B. Taylor5 and K. Dolag6

1  Istituto di Radioastronomia del CNR, via Gobetti 101, 40129 Bologna, Italy
    e-mail: murgia@ira.cnr.it
2  INAF - Osservatorio Astronomico di Cagliari, Loc. Poggio dei Pini, Strada 54, 09012 Capoterra (CA), Italy
3  Dipartimento di Astronomia, Università di Bologna, via Ranzani 1, 40127 Bologna, Italy
4  Dipartimento di Fisica, Università di Bologna, via Irnerio 46, 40126 Bologna, Italy
5  National Radio Astronomy Observatory, Socorro, NM 87801, USA
6  Dipartimento di Astronomia, Università di Padova, vicolo dell'Osservatorio 5, 35122 Padova, Italy

(Received 7 July 2003 / Accepted 3 June 2004 )

We present a numerical approach to investigate the relationship between magnetic fields and Faraday rotation effects in clusters of galaxies. We can infer the structure and strength of intra-cluster magnetic fields by comparing our simulations with the observed polarization properties of extended cluster radio sources such as radio galaxies and halos. We find the observations require a magnetic field which fluctuates over a wide range of spatial scales (at least one order of magnitude). If several polarized radio sources are located at different projected positions in a galaxy cluster, as is the case for A119, detailed Faraday rotation images allow us to constrain both the magnetic field strength and the slope of the power spectrum. Our results show that the standard analytic expressions applied in the literature overestimate the cluster magnetic field strengths by a factor of ~2. We investigate the possible effects of our models on beam depolarization of radio sources whose radiation traverses the magnetized intracluster medium. Finally, we point out that radio halos may provide important information about the spatial power spectrum of the magnetic field fluctuations on large scales. In particular, different values of the index of the power spectrum produce very different total intensity and polarization brightness distributions.

Key words: magnetic fields -- galaxies: clusters: general

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© ESO 2004

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