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Jets from MRC 0600-399 bent by magnetic fields in the cluster Abell 3376

Abstract

Galaxy clusters are known to harbour magnetic fields, the nature of which remains unresolved. Intra-cluster magnetic fields can be observed at the density contact discontinuity formed by cool and dense plasma running into hot ambient plasma1,2, and the discontinuity exists3 near the second-brightest galaxy4, MRC 0600-399, in the merging galaxy cluster Abell 3376 (redshift 0.0461). Elongated X-ray emission in the east–west direction shows a comet-like structure that reaches the megaparsec scale5. Previous radio observations6,7 detected the bent jets from MRC 0600-399, moving in same direction as the sub-cluster, against ram pressure. Here we report radio8,9 observations of MRC 0600-399 that have 3.4 and 11 times higher resolution and sensitivity, respectively, than the previous results6. In contrast to typical jets10,11, MRC 0600-399 shows a 90-degree bend at the contact discontinuity, and the collimated jets extend over 100 kiloparsecs from the point of the bend. We see diffuse, elongated emission that we name ‘double-scythe’ structures. The spectral index flattens downstream of the bend point, indicating cosmic-ray reacceleration. High-resolution numerical simulations reveal that the ordered magnetic field along the discontinuity has an important role in the change of jet direction. The morphology of the double-scythe jets is consistent with the simulations. Our results provide insights into the effect of magnetic fields on the evolution of the member galaxies and intra-cluster medium of galaxy clusters.

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Fig. 1: Multi-wavelength view of A3376 and MRC 0600-399.
Fig. 2: Radio properties derived from MeerKAT observation.
Fig. 3: Numerical simulations of the interaction between jets and intra-cluster magnetic fields.
Fig. 4: Schematic drawing of the proposed scenario.

Data availability

The raw MeerKAT data used in this work can be accessed at https://archive.sarao.ac.za (project ID: SCI-20190418-JC-01). The calibrated MeerKAT data and images that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding authors upon reasonable request.

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Acknowledgements

J.O.C. acknowledges support from the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MAECI grant number ZA18GR02) and the South African Department of Science and Technology’s National Research Foundation (DST-NRF grant number 113121) as part of the ISARP RADIOSKY2020 Joint Research Scheme. V.P. acknowledges financial assistance from the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO) and the South African Research Chairs Initiative of the Department of Science and Technology and National Research Foundation. This study makes use of MeerKAT data (project ID: SCI-20190418-JC-01). The MeerKAT telescope is operated by the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory, which is a facility of the National Research Foundation, an agency of the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI). SRON is supported financially by NWO, the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research. Numerical computations and analyses were partially carried out on Cray XC50 and analysis servers, respectively, at the Center for Computational Astrophysics, National Astronomical Observatory of Japan. The computation was carried out using the computer resources at the Research Institute for Information Technology, Kyushu University. This work was supported by JSPS KAKENHI grant numbers 20J13339 (H.S.), 20J12591 (T.O.), 19K03916, 20H01941 (M.M.) and 17H01110 and 19H05076 (T.T.T.). T.T.T. was also supported in part by the Sumitomo Foundation Fiscal 2018 Grant for Basic Science Research Projects (180923) and Collaboration Funding of the Institute of Statistical Mathematics “New Development of the Studies on Galaxy Evolution with a Method of Data Science”. The development of SAOImageDS9 software (https://sites.google.com/cfa.harvard.edu/saoimageds9/about?authuser=0) was made possible by funding from the Chandra X-ray Science Center (CXC), the High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Center (HEASARC) and the JWST Mission office at the Space Telescope Science Institute. This research used Astropy, a community-developed core Python package for Astronomy.

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Contributions

J.O.C. conducted the observations and data reduction. V.P. participated in the MeerKAT data reduction, and H.S. analysed the results and processed their implementations. T.O. and M.M. constructed the theory and model and conducted the numerical simulations. H.A. performed X-ray data analysis and wrote the scientific discussion. T.A. contributed to the writing of the MeerKAT proposal and the scientific discussion. T.T.T., R.v.R. and H.N. contributed to the scientific discussions. All authors reviewed the manuscript.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to James O. Chibueze, Haruka Sakemi or Takumi Ohmura.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Peer review information Nature thanks Joydeep Bagchi and Maxim Markevitch for their contribution to the peer review of this work. Peer reviewer reports are available.

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Chibueze, J.O., Sakemi, H., Ohmura, T. et al. Jets from MRC 0600-399 bent by magnetic fields in the cluster Abell 3376. Nature 593, 47–50 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-021-03434-1

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