The effect of helium sedimentation on galaxy cluster masses and scaling relations

G. E. Bulbul, N. Hasler, M. Bonamente, M. Joy, D. Marrone, A. Miller, T. Mroczkowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Context. Recent theoretical studies predict that the inner regions of galaxy clusters may have an enhanced helium abundance due to sedimentation over the cluster lifetime. If sedimentation is not suppressed (e.g., by tangled magnetic fields), this may significantly affect the cluster mass estimates. Aims. We use Chandra X-ray observations of eight relaxed galaxy clusters to investigate the upper limits to the effect of helium sedimentation on the measurement of cluster masses and the best-fit slopes of the YX - M500 and YX - M2500 scaling relations. Methods. We calculated gas mass and total mass in two limiting cases: a uniform, unenhanced abundance distribution and a radial distribution from numerical simulations of helium sedimentation on a timescale of 11 Gyr. Results. The assumed helium sedimentation model, on average, produces a negligible increase in the gas mass inferred within large radii (r < r500) (1.3 ± 1.2%) and a 10.2 ± 5.5% mean decrease in the total mass inferred within r < r500. Significantly stronger effects in the gas mass (10.5 ± 0.8%) and total mass (25.1 ± 1.1%) are seen at small radii owing to a larger variance in helium abundance in the inner region, r ≤ 0.1 r500. Conclusions. We find that the slope of the YX - M500 scaling relation is not significantly affected by helium sedimentation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberA6
JournalAstronomy and astrophysics
StatePublished - 2011


  • galaxies: clusters: general

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


Dive into the research topics of 'The effect of helium sedimentation on galaxy cluster masses and scaling relations'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this