Galaxy Cluster Radio Relics in Adaptive Mesh Refinement Cosmological Simulations

Samuel Skillman, University of Colorado at Boulder

Cosmological shocks are a critical part of galaxy cluster evolution, and are responsible for heating the intracluster medium. However, they are also capable of accelerating non-thermal electrons and protons. In this work we explore the acceleration of electrons at shock fronts, which is thought to be responsible for radio relics - extended radio features in the vicinity of merging galaxy clusters. We use a combination of high resolution AMR/N-body cosmological simulations with an accurate shock-finding algorithm and a model for electron acceleration to calculate the expected synchrotron emission. We then use both statistical studies and individual merger history analysis to explore the nature of the radio relic population and origin. By producing observationally motivated statistics, we provide predictions that can be compared with observations to further our understanding of magnetic fields and electron shock acceleration in galaxy cluster environments.

Abstract Author(s): Samuel W. Skillman, Eric J. Hallman, Britton D. Smith, Jack O. Burns, Brian W. O'Shea, Matthew J. Turk