Context. About half of the baryons of the Universe are expected to be in the form of filaments of hot and low-density intergalactic medium. Most of these baryons remain undetected even by the most advanced X-ray observatories, which are limited in sensitivity to the diffuse low-density medium. Aims. The Planck satellite has provided hundreds of detections of the hot gas in clusters of galaxies via the thermal Sunyaev-Zel'dovich (tSZ) effect and is an ideal instrument for studying extended low-density media through the tSZ effect. In this paper we use the Planck data to search for signatures of a fraction of these missing baryons between pairs of galaxy clusters. Methods. Cluster pairs are good candidates for searching for the hotter and denser phase of the intergalactic medium (which is more easily observed through the SZ effect). Using an X-ray catalogue of clusters and the Planck data, we selected physical pairs of clusters as candidates. Using the Planck data, we constructed a local map of the tSZ effect centred on each pair of galaxy clusters. ROSAT data were used to construct X-ray maps of these pairs. After modelling and subtracting the tSZ effect and X-ray emission for each cluster in the pair, we studied the residuals on both the SZ and X-ray maps. Results. For the merging cluster pair A399-A401 we observe a significant tSZ effect signal in the intercluster region beyond the virial radii of the clusters. A joint X-ray SZ analysis allows us to constrain the temperature and density of this intercluster medium. We obtain a temperature of kT = 7.1 ± 0.9 keV (consistent with previous estimates) and a baryon density of (3.7 ± 0.2) × 10-4 cm -3. Conclusions. The Planck satellite mission has provided the first SZ detection of the hot and diffuse intercluster gas.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science
- Galaxies: clusters: general
- Large-scale structure of Universe