A multi-wavelength study of galaxy clusters hosting radio sources
Wing, Joshua David
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Galaxy clusters play an important role in understanding the formation of structure in the Universe and can be used to constrain cosmological parameters. Thousands of clusters are known in the nearby Universe, but few are confirmed at large distances. Remote clusters provide a view of the early Universe, and are important for studying galaxy evolution. Here, I describe a technique for finding distant clusters using bent, double-lobed radio galaxies. These radio sources are active galactic nuclei (AGN) that result from outflows of material surrounding supermassive black holes in the centers of massive galaxies. These outflows are typically bent as a result of the relative motion between the host galaxy and the surrounding hot gas that fills clusters. Using the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) and the Faint Images of the Radio Sky at Twenty-centimeters (FIRST) survey, I determine the frequency with which bent radio sources are associated with rich galaxy clusters in the nearby Universe (z < 0.5), as compared to non-bent radio sources. I find that > 60% of bent radio sources are located in rich cluster environments, compared to 10 - 20% of non-bent radio sources. Therefore, bent radio sources are efficient tracers for clusters and are useful as beacons of clusters at large distances. Bent radio sources may achieve their morphologies through large-scale cluster mergers that set the intracluster medium (ICM) in motion. Using a suite of substructure tests, I determine the significance of optical substructure in clusters containing radio sources. I find no preference for substructure in clusters with bent double-lobed sources compared to other types of radio sources, indicating that bent sources will not necessarily preferentially select clusters undergoing recent largescale mergers. Having established that bent radio sources efficiently locate clusters, I have obtained deep, follow-up observations at optical and near-infrared wavelengths to uncover associated distant cluster candidates. In addition, a large Spitzer Space Telescope survey is underway to observe all bent sources not detected in the SDSS. Follow-up observations reveal a large number of high-redshift candidates. Further study of these objects will lend insight into galaxy formation and evolution and feedback between an AGN and its environment at high-redshift for clusters with a range of masses.
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