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The Cluster Soft Excess, Dark Radiation and a 0.1-1 keV Cosmic Axion Background
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Since 1996 soft excess emission above thermal bremsstrahlung from the intracluster medium has been observed from galaxy clusters in extreme ultraviolet and soft X-ray frequencies. We review proposed astrophysical explanations, and the difficulties they face in the light of cluster magnetic field measurements and null observations of clusters in gamma rays. String theory moduli that decay at t ~ 10-6 s generally have non-zero branching ratios to axion-like particles. These freestream to the present day and currently constitute a dark radiation Cosmic Axion Background at 0.1 – 1 keV energies. These axions can convert into photons in cluster magnetic fields, and allowed particle physics parameters can easily generate the required excess luminosity of approximately 1043 erg s-1. For the case of Coma, we use a detailed model of the Coma magnetic field to calculate the axion conversion probabilities and to study the resulting excess morphology.
This talk is part of the Cosmology lunch series.
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