Galaxy cluster environment not dictated by its mass alone

Galaxy cluster environment not dictated by its mass alone

 The connection between a galaxy cluster and surrounding dark matter is not characterised solely by the mass of clusters but also by their formation history, scientists, including one of Indian-origin, have found for the first time.

Galaxy clusters are the biggest celestial objects in the sky consisting of thousands of galaxies. They form from non-uniformity in the matter distribution established by cosmic inflation in the beginning of the universe.

Their growth is a constant fight between the gathering of dark matter by gravity and the accelerated expansion of the universe due to dark energy.

By studying galaxy clusters, researchers can learn more about these biggest and most mysterious building blocks of the universe.

Led by Hironao Miyatake, who is currently at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Surhud More and Masahiro Takada of the Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics (Kavli IPMU) in the US, the researchers challenged the conventional idea that the connection between galaxy clusters and the surrounding dark matter environment is solely characterised by their mass.

Based on the nature of the non-uniform matter distribution established by cosmic inflation, it was theoretically predicted that other factors should affect the connection.
However, no one had succeeded in seeing it in the real universe until now.

The team divided almost 9,000 galaxy clusters from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey DR8 galaxy catalogue into two samples based on the spatial distribution of galaxies inside each cluster.

By using gravitational lensing they confirmed the two samples have similar masses, but they found that the distribution of clusters was different.

Galaxy clusters in which member galaxies bunched up towards the centre were less clumpy than clusters in which member galaxies were more spread out.

The difference in distribution is a result of the different dark matter environment in which they form.

The findings show that the connection between a galaxy cluster and surrounding dark matter is not characterised solely by the mass of clusters, but also by their formation history.

The study was published in the journal Physical Review Letters.

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