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Hot plasma in clusters of galaxies, the largest objects in the universe

By SpaceRef Editor
January 13, 2003
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Astrophysics, abstract

From: Craig L. Sarazin <[email protected]>
Date: Fri, 10 Jan 2003 19:17:39 GMT (291kb)

Hot plasma in clusters of galaxies, the largest objects in the universe

Craig L. Sarazin

Comments: 7 pages with 6 Postscript figures in APS preprint style. To appear in
Physics of Plasmas

Clusters of galaxies are the largest organized structures in the Universe.
They are important cosmological probes, since they are large enough to contain
a fair sample of the materials in the Universe, but small enough to have
achieved dynamical equilibrium. Clusters were first discovered as
concentrations of hundreds of bright galaxies in a region about 3 megaparsecs
(10 million light years) across. However, the dominant observed form of matter
in clusters is hot, diffuse intergalactic gas. This intracluster plasma has
typical temperatures of T ~ 7e7 K, and typical electron densities of n_e ~
10^{-3} cm^{-3}. This intracluster plasma mainly emits X-rays, and typical
cluster X-ray luminosities are L_X ~ 10^{43} – 10^{45} erg/s. The basic
properties of and physical processes in the intracluster plasma will be
reviewed. Important observational constraints on plasma processes in these
systems will be discussed. Recent X-ray observations of clusters of galaxies
with the orbiting Chandra X-ray Observatory will be highlighted.

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