EDP Sciences
Free Access
Volume 505, Number 3, October III 2009
Page(s) 991 - 997
Section Cosmology (including clusters of galaxies)
DOI https://doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361/200912528
Published online 11 August 2009
A&A 505, 991-997 (2009)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/200912528

Diffuse radio emission in the merging cluster MACS J0717.5+3745: the discovery of the most powerful radio halo

R. J. van Weeren1, H. J. A. Röttgering1, M. Brüggen2, and A. Cohen3

1  Leiden Observatory, Leiden University, PO Box 9513, 2300 RA Leiden, The Netherlands
    e-mail: rvweeren@strw.leidenuniv.nl
2  Jacobs University Bremen, PO Box 750 561, 28725 Bremen, Germany
3  Naval Research Laboratory, Code 7213, Washington, DC 20375, USA

Received 19 May 2009 / Accepted 3 August 2009

Context. Hierarchical models of structure formation predict that galaxy clusters grow via mergers of smaller clusters and galaxy groups, as well as through continuous accretion of gas. MACS J0717.5+3745 is an X-ray luminous and complex merging cluster, located at a redshift of 0.5548. The cluster is suspected to host a bright radio relic, but up until now no detailed radio observations have been reported. Here we present Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT) radio observations at 610 MHz of this cluster.
Aims. The main aim of the observations is to study the diffuse radio emission within the galaxy cluster MACS J0717.5+3745 related to the ongoing merger.
Methods. We have carried out GMRT 610 MHz continuum observations of MACS J0717.5+3745 . These are complemented by Very Large Array (VLA) archival observations at 1.4, 4.9 and 8.5 GHz.
Results. We have discovered a radio halo in the cluster MACS J0717.5+3745 with a size of about 1.2 Mpc. The monochromatic radio power at 1400 MHz (P1.4) is 5 $\times$ 1025 W Hz-1, which makes it the most powerful radio halo known to date. A 700 kpc radio structure, which we classify as a radio relic, is located in between the merging substructures of the system. The global spectral index of radio emission within the cluster is found to be -1.24 $\pm$ 0.05 between 4.9 GHz and 610 MHz. We derive a value of 5.8 $\mu$G for the equipartition magnetic field strength at the location of the radio halo. The location of the relic roughly coincides with regions of the intra-cluster medium (ICM) that have a significant enhancement in temperature as shown by Chandra. The major axis of the relic is also roughly perpendicular to the merger axis. This shows that the relic might be the result of a merger-related shock wave, where particles are accelerated via the diffuse shock acceleration (DSA) mechanism. Alternatively, the relic might trace an accretion shock of a large-scale galaxy filament to the south-east.

Key words: radio continuum: galaxies -- galaxies: clusters: individual: MACS J0717.5+3745 -- cosmology: large-scale structure of Universe

© ESO 2009

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