Universiteit Leiden

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From supernovae to galaxy clusters: observing the chemical enrichment in the hot intra-cluster medium

Promotor: Jelle S. Kaastra Co-promotor: Jelle de Plaa

Francois Mernier
31 mei 2017
Thesis in Leiden Repository

Whereas the extreme conditions of the first minutes after the Big Bang have produced nearly all the hydrogen and helium in the Universe, heavier elements - or metals - are synthesised in the core of stars and in supernova explosions. Currently, however, the behaviour of supernovae (and their stellar progenitors) is not well understood, and could be better constrained by measuring accurately the relative amount of metals they produce. On the other hand, the very hot and diffuse gas - or intra-cluster medium (ICM), glowing in X-ray and detected in the large gravitational potential well of galaxy clusters and groups, is also rich in metals. This means that the building blocks of life, synthesised by billions of supernovae over cosmic times, are present even at the largest scales of the Universe, as they enrich the ICM. In this thesis, I show how measuring the abundances of O, Ne, Mg, Si, S, Ar, Ca, Cr, Mn, Fe, and Ni in a sample of nearby, relaxed galaxy clusters, groups, and ellipticals observed with XMM-Newton (the CHEmical Enrichment Rgs Sample) helps to better understand Type Ia and core-collapse supernovae, as well as the history and conditions of the ICM enrichment in general.