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Surface brightness and temperature profiles of the Perseus cluster

Khan Muhammad Bin Asad

University of Rome Tor Vergata, Italy

11 May 2011
Chapter 1


The Perseus cluster (Abell 426) is the brightest x-ray source in the known universe. It is a
cluster of richness class 2 and has a cD galaxy (NGC 1275) at its centre (RA: 49.934167, DEC:
41.421667). It is located at a redshift of 0.0178 (Fadda et al. 1996). Because of the AGN it’s
surface brightness sharply peak at the very centre of the cluster. Jet of relativistic particles
from this AGN created two radio bubbles in the vicinity. Ghost bubbles are also seen in the
north-west and southern region. These bubbles were created by past AGN activity.
I worked with 3 observations of this cluster by Chandra X-ray Observatory with a total
exposure time of 216269 s. Observation IDs are 11714, 11716 and 12037. Goal of this project
is to measure the surface brightness profile and temperature profile of Perseus cluster and see if
they satisfy the theory. Another objective was to be familiarized with Ciao and XSpec, tools for
data reduction, imaging and spectroscopy. Ciao is specially designed for Chandra data analysis.
Along with Ciao, Heasoft and Xspec I also used ds9 (SAOImage) for viewing images, funtools
for counting number of photons in a selected region and gnuplot to plot the profiles.
My profiles were in good agreement with the theory and also with some other profiles
published as papers.
Iacopo Bartalucci and Rossella Martino helped me a lot regarding this project. Without
their help it would be very difficult to finish this in time.

Figure 1.1: Mosaic of 3 observations of Perseus cluster by Chandra with a total exposure time
of 216269 s.

Chapter 2

Imaging and surface brightness


2.1 Processing individual observations

2.1.1 Data files
After extracting the observations package I got 3 directories by the names of the individual ob-
servations. In each directory there were 2 directories (primary, secondary) and 2 files (summary
file, verification and validation file in pdf). From the primary directory I was interseted only
in the aspect solution file. This file gives information on the orientation of the telescope as a
function of time. The detected position of an event and the corresponding telescope aspect are
combined for an accurate determination of the celestial position of that event.
In the secodary directory most important file is ”evt1.fits” file. The level 1 event file contains
all the events recorded for the observation. While many of these events have a status bit set to
flags them as ”bad”, none of the information has been removed. This file is filtered on GTIs
and status bits to create the level 2 event file. Other important files here are mask and pbk files.
The mask file records the valid part of the detector element used for the observation. The active
portion of an element may be smaller than the default regions if an observation was performed
using subarrays or custom windows. This information is used when creating response files, such
as ARFs. The parameter block (pbk) file is needed in conjunction with the bias maps when
creating a new bad pixel list. It is used to determine observational parameters, such as which
CCDs are active. [cxc science threads]

2.1.2 Processing the evt1 file

I used ”chandra repro” script to process data of each observation stored in primary and sec-
ondary directories and create a ”new” directory. It created a new bad pixel file, a new level=2
event file, and a new level=2 Type II PHA (Pulse height amplitude) file in the new directory.
msk1, pbk0, asol1 files were also stored in this directory. So new directory became the starting
point of my further analysis. ”chandra repro” can do several steps at a time: removes the ”acis
detect afterglow” (due to cosmic ray) correction, detect ACIS hot pixels and process them, filter
event1 file on GTI and status bits. GTI consists of start and stop times, status bit is a 32 bit
number that record information on cosmic ray, bad pixel etc. I repeated chandra repro for other
After processing I used dmcopy to create an image that would be suitable for furhter pro-
cessing. In Chandra image most of the detcted photons fall in the range of 500 to 2500 eV. So

I took photons within this range only. As there are plenty of photons for Perseus cluster, I did
not have to use any binning. This script was also repeated for other observations.

2.1.3 Processing the background

First, I downloaded the ACIS background event files from CALDB (Calibration database)
download webpage. After extracting I got many blank sky files. To search for the bkgrnd files
suitable for my observations 3 information were needed: kind of observation (ACIS-I), period
of observation (D) and ccd id (0,1,2,3,6). For seraching the files in a more convenient way I
used ”acis bkgrnd lookup” script. For 5 ccds I got 5 suitable background files that were merged
using dmmerge script to create one background file.

2.2 Background subtraction

The background files are generated using a gain file. The GAINFILE keyword in the header of
the background files matched that of my source file. But the pointing (PNT) header keyword
values in the background files were set to zero. These values indicate where the optical axis was
during the observation. Having zero-values would cause the CIAO tool, dmcoords, to produce
incorrect results when run with the background file. So I copied the PNT header keyword values
from evt2 file of my observation into the PNT header of background.
Then ”reproject events” script was used to change the sky coordinate tangent point in the
background event file to match with the cleaned evt2 file of my observation. This tool can
handle the special case of reprojecting a file which does not have an input time column, such as
the ACIS background file. The tool takes the time range covered by the aspect solution of the
observation and intersects it with the GTIs from the match file, which means that the output file
will only contain events for those chips contained in the match file. After reprojecting dmcopy
was used to create a new background image within aforementioned energy range.
Exposure time of the background image is very long compared to that of the observation, so
I normalized it with respect to the observation. Background image was divided by it’s exposure
time and than multiplied by the exposure time of the specific observation image created from
evt2 file. Than I subtracted background image from the observation image. All these arithmetic
operations were done by ”dmimgcalc” script. After getting the background subtracted image
I used dmcopy to cut a certain portion of it containing the Perseus cluster to save hard disk
space. Starting from that point I used the cut image.

2.3 Exposure maps

Counts taken from an extended x-ray source certainly contain some instrumental artifacts.
Removing these artifacts, we can get the true image of the source, i.e. how it actually looks.
Three specific errors related to these artifacts can be removed by exposure maps. These artifacts
are: vignetting, imperfection of detectors and gaps between CCDs.
Vignetting is a reduction of an image’s brightness or saturation at the periphery compared
to the image center. Along with reflectivity it reduces the geometric area of the collector
of the telescope. CXC defines effective area to be the product of the mirror geometric area,
reflectivity, off-axis vignetting (also a function of energy as well as off-axis angle), detector
quantum efficiency, and diffraction grating efficiency. If the telescope is off-axis some of the
photons from the source can be reflected from the outer surface of the telescope. Also when
Chandra was sent to orbit some of it’s instruments were harmed.

Effective exposure map [cm2 ] is made by dithering (intentionally applied form of noise used
to randomize quantization error) an instrument map across the sky using the aspect solution.
The aspect histogram gives the amount of time the Chandra optical axis dwelt on each part of
the sky, while the instrument map provides the instantaneous effective area across the field of
view. The product is the exposure map, from which flux or surface brightness can be calculated.
I used the ”merge all” script to create exposure map. Among other things aspect solution, evt2
file of each observation were given as input to the script. This process was repeated for all the
three observations.

2.4 Mosaic of all observations

First I created the mosaic of 3 background subtracted images using ”reproject image grid”
script. All the images were overlapped with respect to a common tangent point, i.e. centre of
the cluster in WCS coordinate. Than I created mosaic of the 3 exposure maps. For creating
mosaic of the exposure maps I used average method while for background subtracted images I
used sum. After that, I divided sum of all the background subtracted images by the average of
exposure maps. Finally, output fits file from division was multiplied by the total exposure time
of all the observations. Thus I got the final image after all kind of data reduction.

2.5 Surface brightness profile

In the final image I saw a central AGN at the centre of the clsuter. Around the centre I also
saw two bubbles created by the jet of relativistic particles coming out from the centre of the
AGN. X-ray gas are removed from these bubbles by the relativistic particles, that’s why they
look like cavities in x-ray image. While measuring the surface brightness profile, I excluded the
central AGN as I wanted only the surface brightness profile of x-ray emitting ICM gas. So I
created 50 annuli in ds9 from a radius of 15 arcs to 350 arcs. From funtools I got the number of
counts in these 50 regions. I used this table from funtools to plot the surface brightness profile
using gnuplot.
I had one problem in the final profile. My surface brightness profile had a strong peak
towards centre but it started to fall down near the very centre, because of the cavities. Though
I considered regions with radius larger than 15 arcs, cavities were not excluded. To really show
the properties of the ICM of a galaxy cluster I excluded the very central region from the final
graph using a specific xrange. Here is the final image that I got:

Figure 2.1: Surface brightness profile shows a strong peak towards centre due to increasing
x-ray luminosity. x-axis is scaled in pixels. For chandra 1 pixel corresponds to 0.5 arcs. Error
margins are shown by vertical bars.

Surface brightness profile peaks towards the centre due to cooling flow. Within the cooling
radius gas start to cool down emitting x-ray bremsstrahlung. As central gas cool down, gas
from outskirts flow towards centre thus increasing the density which in turn again reduce the
cooling timescale, and gas cools down even faster. So we get lots of continuum emission from
centre. But these cooling gas are reheated by central AGN and conduction from outskirts. In
the past people expected to find huge amount of cool gas in the centre due to cooling flow, but
now we can explain the lack of gas by introducing reheating concept.

Chapter 3

Spectroscopy and temperature


3.1 Extracting spectra

First, I divided my final mosaic image in 5 regions by creating 5 annuli from 15 to 350 arcs.
Each annulus had almost same number of photons. I saved these annuli seperately excluding
the point sources. As I was working on WCS coordinate I could use these regions on individual
evt2 files to extract spectra.
Before extracting spectra I also created aspect histogram for each observations. The aspect
solution is given every 0.256 seconds during an observation. It can be put into a very compressed
form by making a histogram of the pointing vs. x-offset, y-offset, and roll-offset. The value in
each bin is the time the pointing was within that offset bin during the observation, as modified by
the good-time interval (GTI) and dead-time-correction factor (DTF). The histogram is primarily
used to shorten the time required to compute the response averaged over the observation via
the file’s header.
Than I extracted spectra from each of the 5 regions for all of the 3 observations. After
extraction I got spectra, response and auxiliary response files for 15 regions. I merged the
spectra and response files of each observation together and obtained 5 spectra with response
files. ”specextract” was used to extract spectra while ”combine spectra” was used to combine

3.2 Fitting spectra with wabs(mekal)

Than xspec was used to fit this spectra with an analytical model. Fitting is necessary because,
although we use a spectrometer to measure the spectrum of a source, what the spectrometer
obtains is not the actual spectrum, but rather photon counts (C) within specific instrument
channels, (I). This observed spectrum is related to the actual spectrum of the source (f(E)) by,
Z ∞
C(I) = f (E)R(I, E)dE (3.1)

Where R(I, E) is the instrumental response and is proportional to the probability that an
incoming photon of energy E will be detected in channel I. Ideally, then, we would like to
determine the actual spectrum of a source, f(E), by inverting this equation, thus deriving f(E)
for a given set of C(I). But this is not possible in general, as such inversions tend to be non-
unique and unstable to small changes in C(I). That’s why we need fitting. We use a model

spectrum f(E) and see for which temperature value it fits perfectly with the observed C(I).
Than the model f(E) becomes the actual spectrum of the source.
Wabs and Mekal models were used. Wabs is an absorption model that account for absorption
in the ICM while Mekal is a thermal model that account for thermal x-ray bremsstrahlung. In
the model I froze the parameters: nH (average column density of H) and redshift. I got density
of gas at the central region of ICM using funtools and the value was 0.135 × 1022−2 .
Redshift was known to be 0.0178. Finally I got 5 fits for the 5 regions.
Unfortunately, my fits were not very accurate as I got large reduced chi-squared values.
This value gives a measure of correlation between the observation and the model. My reduced
chi-squared value was always larger than 5. I think this high value is caused by some imperfect
background subtraction. Maybe I could not remove the background completely. As a result the
model, which is absolutely noise free, did not match perfectly. But the values for temperatures
in different regions were not odd. I got almost perfect values for the temperature within an
acceptable error margin.

3.3 Temperature profile

Here I again used gnuplot. The temperature in different regions and their error margins were
written in a table along with the respective annulus number. Then, instead of annulus number
I used a more physical value, mean of the two radius’ of each annulus. This central radius was
plot along the x-axis. I got the following temperature profile:

Figure 3.1: Temperature profile declines towards the centre because of cooling flow. 5 measure-
ments within 15 to 350 arcs region are shown here. Their error margins are shown by vertical

I mathced this profile with another profile from a published paper [De Grandi and Molendi
(2002)]. It seems my values for temperature a bit different than their’s but it’s within acceptable
range. According to this paper cooling radius of Perseus begins from almost 6 arcmin or 360
arcs. That means my temperature values are just within the cooling radius. As Chandra’s field
of view is very small I had restrain myself within this limit this time. My measurements show
an almost perfect downward gradient towards the centre in agreement with the theory.