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Clusters of Galaxies


The nature of the intragalactic medium (IGM) in clusters and groups of galaxies is an important subject for understanding the large scale properties of the universe. X-ray observations show this plasma, which exists on a scale of hundreds of kiloparsecs up to at least many Megaparsecs, has hot thermal gas as a major component. However, radio observations show that, in many cases, large-scale magnetic fields make up another important component of the medium. The physics of this medium is important in its own right since it represents an extreme environment to investigate complex plasma processes. How ubiquitous and how well organized are the magnetic fields in the IGM? How were they formed? Are dynamo processes responsible? What rôle do they play in so called ``cooling flows''? Is the energy in the magnetic fields, or that imparted to the medium by AGN's, important relative to thermal content of the gas? Are relativistic particles accelerated and/or re-accelerated on large scales? Are they energetically important? What is the range of temperatures in the thermal IGM and how is it regulated? The enhanced VLA will allow significant progress on these issues, primarily through ultra-sensitive observations of i) cluster radio halos; ii) Faraday rotation studies; iii) the Sunyaev-Zeldovich effect; iv) radio galaxies in clusters; and v) gravitational lensing and mass measurements of clusters.

Technical requirements:

Michael Rupen
Fri Mar 26 15:30:00 MST 1999