The extreme-ultraviolet emission in the Coma Cluster of galaxies and the underlying source of this radiation

Stuart Bowyer, Eric J. Korpela, Michael Lampton, T. W. Jones

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27 Scopus citations


Observations with the Extreme Ultraviolet Explorer (EUVE) have shown the Coma Cluster to be a source of EUV emission in excess of that produced by X-ray gas in the cluster. We have reexamined the EUVE data on this cluster in an attempt to obtain clues as to the origin of this emission. We find two important new results. First, the ratio between the azimuthally averaged EUV excess emission and the ROSAT hard X-ray flux is constant as a function of distance from the cluster center outward. Second, a correlation analysis between the EUV excess emission and the X-ray emission shows that on a detailed level the EUV excess is spatially closely related to the X-ray emission. These findings contradict previous suggestions as to the underlying source of the diffuse EUV emission in Coma and provide important information in regard to the true source of this emission. We propose a new explanation for the source of this emission: inverse Compton scattering of microwave background photons by secondary electrons and positrons. We explore this possibility in some detail and show that it is consistent with all of the available observational evidence. The parent cosmic-ray protons may have been produced by any of a number of sources, including supemovae, active galaxies, galactic winds, and cluster formation shocks, but we believe that the most likely source is cluster formation shocks. If the EUV emission in the Coma Cluster is, in fact, the result of secondary electrons, this may be the only direct evidence for secondary electrons in the intracluster medium of a cluster of galaxies, since recent work suggests that secondary electrons may not be the cause of radio halos.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)168-178
Number of pages11
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1 I
StatePublished - Apr 10 2004


  • Galaxies: clusters: individual (Coma)
  • Intergalactic medium
  • Shock waves
  • Ultraviolet: general


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