Tracing the inception of the galaxy cluster era

Dr. Luca Di Mascolo, Università di Trieste, Trieste, Italy

25 Ottobre 2023
11:30, Aula Piazzi


Until now, direct observations of the intracluster medium (ICM) have been limited only to mature clusters in the latter three-quarters of the history of the Universe, and we have been lacking a direct view of the hot, thermalized cluster atmosphere beyond z~2, the epoch when the first massive clusters formed. This is the time when intracluster gas starts to assemble and virialize, and cosmic star formation and the activity of active galactic nuclei (AGN) manifest a concurrent peak. Probing the thermal evolution of cosmic structures through z~2 is thus crucial for exploring the link between galaxy clusters and their over-dense progenitors, as well as finding the observational fingerprint of feedback effects that regulate the later coevolution of the galaxy and intracluster/circumgalactic medium ecosystems.
In my talk, I will present our recent detection of the thermal Sunyaev-Zeldovich (SZ) effect in the direction of the protocluster complex surrounding the famous Spiderweb Galaxy (z~2.16), made possible only thanks to the superior capabilities of the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array (ALMA). Such identification of a nascent intracluster halo represents the unambiguous proof that we are witnessing the transition through which a sparse overdensity of galaxies turns into a massive galaxy cluster, providing a statistically meaningful confirmation of long-standing predictions from cosmological simulations, and cluster and galaxy evolution models.