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Astron. Astrophys. 357, 66-74 (2000)

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On the thermal origin of the hard X-ray emission from the Coma cluster

V.A. Dogiel

P.N. Lebedev Physical Institute, 117924 Moscow, Russia

Received 15 November 1999 / Accepted 3 March 2000


We analyze the origin of the hard X-ray flux from the Coma cluster observed by the Beppo-SAX satellite. This flux is typically assumed to be produced by nonthermal particles accelerated in the Coma medium. We show, however, that in the case of in-situ acceleration of particles from the thermal pool, the hard X-rays in the range of Beppo-SAX observations (30-80 keV) are generated by bremsstrahlung radiation of thermal particles with the Maxwellian spectrum distorted by the acceleration. This mimics the effect of a two-temperature thermal spectrum. The power-law nonthermal spectrum of accelerated particles is formed at energies above 900 keV. The fraction of particles accelerated from the thermal pool is estimated in the range [FORMULA]. For the acceleration parameters derived from the hard X-ray flux we conclude that the strength of the magnetic field in the Coma halo is about 0.2-7 µG. In the framework of the model the maximum frequency of the radio emission from Coma is several GHz in agreement with observations. At higher frequencies there is a strong steepening in the radio spectrum. For some values of acceleration parameters and magnetic fields, clusters of galaxies emit only hard X-rays but no radio flux comes from them.

Key words: galaxies: clusters: individual: Coma cluster – X-rays: general – ISM: cosmic rays – radiation mechanisms: non-thermal

Correspondence to: dogiel@lpi.ru

© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 2000

Online publication: May 3, 2000