Constraining relativistic protons and magnetic fields in galaxy clusters through radio and gamma-ray observations : the case of A2256

Brunetti, G.
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Giant radio halos are the most relevant examples of diffuse synchrotron emission from galaxy clusters. A number of these sources have very steep spectrum, with spectral index $\alpha \geq 1.5-1.6$ ($F(\nu) \propto \nu^{-\alpha}$), and are ideal targets to test current models for the origin of the relativistic particles. A2256 hosts the nearest radio halo with very steep spectrum, with $\alpha =1.61$, and a very large population of relativistic protons in the cluster would be necessary to explain the halo as due to synchrotron emission from secondary particles. In this case the 0.1-1 GeV $\gamma$--ray luminosity is expected 10-20 times larger than that of clusters hosting radio halos with similar radio power at GHz frequencies but with spectra more typical of the presently observed halo population, $\alpha \sim 1.2$. Under these assumptions incoming FERMI/GLAST observations are expected to detect A2256, provided that the magnetic field in the central cluster region is $\leq$10-15 $\mu$G. We show that this will allow for a prompt test of hadronic models for the origin of radio halos, and for complementary constraints on both the cluster magnetic field and the physics of particle acceleration mechanisms.
Comment: 4 pages, 3 figures, to appear in Astronomy and Astrophysics
Astrophysics - High Energy Astrophysical Phenomena, Astrophysics - Cosmology and Nongalactic Astrophysics