Non-Equilibrium Electrons and the Sunyaev-Zel'dovich Effect of Galaxy Clusters

Rudd, Douglas H.
Nagai, Daisuke
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We present high-resolution cosmological hydrodynamic simulations of three galaxy clusters employing a two-temperature model for the intracluster medium. We show that electron temperatures in cluster outskirts are significantly lower than the mean gas temperature, because Coulomb collisions are insufficient to keep electrons and ions in thermal equilibrium. This deviation is larger in more massive and less relaxed systems, ranging from 5% in relaxed clusters to 30% for clusters undergoing major mergers. The presence of non-equilibrium electrons leads to significant suppression of the SZE signal at large cluster-centric radius. The suppression of the electron pressure also leads to an underestimate of the hydrostatic mass. Merger-driven, internal shocks may also generate significant populations of non-equilibrium electrons in the cluster core, leading to a 5% bias on the integrated SZ mass proxy during cluster mergers.
Comment: 5 pages, 4 figures, Accepted for publication in ApJL
Astrophysics - Cosmology and Nongalactic Astrophysics