Context. In some galaxy clusters, powerful active galactic nuclei (AGN) have blown bubbles with cluster scale extent into the ambient medium. The main pressure support of these bubbles is not known to date, but cosmic rays are a viable possibility. For such a scenario copious gamma-ray emission is expected as a tracer of cosmic rays from these systems. Aims. Hydra A, the closest galaxy cluster hosting a cluster scale AGN outburst, located at a redshift of 0.0538, is investigated for being a gamma-ray emitter with the High Energy Stereoscopic System (H.E.S.S.) array and the Fermi Large Area Telescope (Fermi-LAT). Methods. Data obtained in 20.2 h of dedicated H.E.S.S. observations and 38 months of Fermi-LAT data, gathered by its usual all-sky scanning mode, have been analyzed to search for a gamma-ray signal. Results. No signal has been found in either data set. Upper limits on the gamma-ray flux are derived and are compared to models. These are the first limits on gamma-ray emission ever presented for galaxy clusters hosting cluster scale AGN outbursts. Conclusions. The non-detection of Hydra A in gamma-rays has important implications on the particle populations and physical conditions inside the bubbles in this system. For the case of bubbles mainly supported by hadronic cosmic rays, the most favorable scenario, which involves full mixing between cosmic rays and embedding medium, can be excluded. However, hadronic cosmic rays still remain a viable pressure support agent to sustain the bubbles against the thermal pressure of the ambient medium. The largest population of highly-energetic electrons, which are relevant for inverse-Compton gamma-ray production is found in the youngest inner lobes of Hydra A. The limit on the inverse-Compton gamma-ray flux excludes a magnetic field below half of the equipartition value of 16 μG in the inner lobes.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The support of the Namibian authorities and of the University of Namibia in facilitating the construction and operation of H.E.S.S. is gratefully acknowledged, as is the support by the German Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF), the Max Planck Society, the French Ministry for Research, the CNRS-IN2P3 and the Astroparticle Interdisciplinary Programme of the CNRS, the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), the IPNP of the Charles University, the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education, the South African Department of Science and Technology and National Research Foundation, and by the University of Namibia. We appreciate the excellent work of the technical support staff in Berlin, Durham, Hamburg, Heidelberg, Palaiseau, Paris, Saclay, and in Namibia in the construction and operation of the equipment.
- Galaxies: active
- Galaxies: clusters: individual: Hydra A
- Gamma rays: galaxies: clusters