EDP Sciences
Free access
Volume 491, Number 1, November III 2008
Page(s) 71 - 87
Section Cosmology (including clusters of galaxies)
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:200809739
Published online 11 September 2008

A&A 491, 71-87 (2008)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:200809739

Total mass biases in X-ray galaxy clusters

R. Piffaretti and R. Valdarnini

SISSA/ISAS, via Beirut 4, 34014 Trieste, Italy
    e-mail: piffare@sissa.it

Received 7 March 2008 / Accepted 31 July 2008

Context. The exploitation of clusters of galaxies as cosmological probes relies on accurate measurements of their total gravitating mass. X-ray observations provide a powerful means of probing the total mass distribution in galaxy clusters, but might be affected by observational biases and rely on simplistic assumptions originating from our limited understanding of the intracluster medium physics.
Aims. This paper is aimed at elucidating the reliability of X-ray total mass estimates in clusters of galaxies by properly disentangling various biases of both observational and physical origin.
Methods. We use N-body/SPH simulation of a large sample of ~100 galaxy clusters and investigate total mass biases by comparing the mass reconstructed adopting an observational-like approach with the true mass in the simulations. X-ray surface brightness and temperature profiles extracted from the simulations are fitted with different models and adopting different radial fitting ranges in order to investigate modeling and extrapolation biases. Different theoretical definitions of gas temperature are used to investigate the effect of spectroscopic temperatures and a power ratio analysis of the surface brightness maps allows us to assess the dependence of the mass bias on cluster dynamical state. Moreover, we perform a study on the reliability of hydrostatic and hydrodynamical equilibrium mass estimates using the full three-dimensional information in the simulation.
Results. A model with a low degree of sophistication such as the polytropic $\beta$-model can introduce, in comparison with a more adequate model, an additional mass underestimate of the order of ~10% at r500 and ~15% at r200. Underestimates due to extrapolation alone are at most of the order of ~10% on average, but can be as large as ~50% for individual objects. Masses are on average biased lower for disturbed clusters than for relaxed ones and the scatter of the bias rapidly increases with increasingly disturbed dynamical state. The bias originating from spectroscopic temperatures alone is of the order of 10% at all radii for the whole numerical sample, but strongly depends on both dynamical state and cluster mass. From the full three dimensional information in the simulations we find that the hydrostatic equilibrium assumption yields masses underestimated by ~10–15% and that masses computed by means of the hydrodynamical estimator are unbiased. Finally, we show that there is excellent agreement between our findings, results from similar analyses based on both Eulerian and Lagrangian simulations, and recent observational work based on the comparison between X-ray and gravitational lensing mass estimates.

Key words: galaxies: clusters: general -- X-rays: galaxies: clusters -- methods: numerical

© ESO 2008

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