Tempestuous life beyond R 500: X-ray view on the Coma cluster with SRG/eROSITA. I. X-ray morphology, recent merger, and radio halo connection

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E. Churazov, I. Khabibullin, N. Lyskova, R. Sunyaev, A.M. Bykov

This is the first paper in a series of studies of the Coma cluster using the \textit{SRG}/eROSITA X-ray data obtained in course of the Calibration and Performance Verification observations. The data cover ∼3∘×3∘ area around the cluster with a typical exposure time of more than 20 ks. The stability of the instrumental background and operation of the \textit{SRG} Observatory in the scanning mode provided us with an excellent data set for studies of the diffuse emission up to a distance of ∼1.5R200 from the Coma center. In this study, we discuss the rich morphology revealed by the X-ray observations (also in combination with the SZ data) and argue that the most salient features can be naturally explained by a recent (on-going) merger with the NGC 4839 group. In particular, we identify a faint X-ray bridge connecting the group with the cluster, which is convincing proof that NGC 4839 has already crossed the main cluster. The gas in the Coma core went through two shocks, first through the shock driven by NGC 4839 during its first passage through the cluster some Gyr ago, and, more recently, through the "mini-accretion shock" associated with the gas settling back to quasi-hydrostatic equilibrium in the core. After passing through the primary shock, the gas should spend much of the time in a rarefaction region, where radiative losses of electrons are small, until the gas is compressed again by the mini-accretion shock. Unlike "runway" merger shocks, the mini-accretion shock does not feature a rarefaction region downstream and, therefore, the radio emission can survive longer. Such a two-stage process might explain the formation of the radio halo in the Coma cluster.


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