Clusters of galaxies can be used to constrain cosmological parameters such as the cosmological constant and are an important probe of dark matter and dark energy. However, their use in these roles is limited by their remaining systematic uncertainties in such nonlinear thermal and nonthermal processes, such as cosmic rays and magnetic fields. This project is focused on using advanced adaptive mesh refinement (AMR) cosmological magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) N-body computer simulations with physics constrained by multiwavelength observations. The principal investigator used previous NSF funding to develop the framework to support these investigations using the Enzo computer code. In the proposed project, Cloudy, a new radiative cooling computer software module, will be combined with three different models for distributed heating---star particles, massive galaxy constructs, and active galactic nuclei. These additions to the simulations will help provide more realistic modeling of cluster evolution that will improve our general understanding of cluster properties, such as biases in current mass estimation and limitations of using clusters as probes of precision cosmology.
The project builds on previous NSF-funded work on developing code to simulate cluster evolution. The proposed more advanced simulations will lay important and timely groundwork for interpreting upcoming Sunyaev-Zeldovich Effect, weak lensing, radio, and X-ray surveys. The proposed work will do an excellent job of closely matching simulations with observations in the radio, X-ray, and gamma-ray portions of the spectrum. This work is at the forefront of such investigations.
The principal investigator offers several ways to extend the impact of this project. Educationally, (1) a postdoctoral fellow and a graduate student will participate and be mentored in the project, and (2) modules will be integrated into undergraduate and graduate coursework to teach such physical principles as large scale structure formation and turbulence in the Universe. For public outreach, cosmological simulations will be incorporated into public planetarium programs locally and freely distributed nationally to other planetariums. Finally, the principal investigator will make the developed software modules publicly available to the benefit of the entire scientific community.