We propose a novel method to test the gravitational interactions in the outskirts of galaxy clusters. When gravity is modified, this is typically accompanied by the introduction of an additional scalar degree of freedom, which mediates an attractive fifth force. The presence of an extra gravitational coupling, however, is tightly constrained by local measurements. In chameleon modifications of gravity, local tests can be evaded by employing a screening mechanism that suppresses the fifth force in dense environments. While the chameleon field may be screened in the interior of the cluster, its outer region can still be affected by the extra force, introducing a deviation between the hydrostatic and lensing mass of the cluster. Thus, the chameleon modification can be tested by combining the gas and lensing measurements of the cluster. We demonstrate the operability of our method with the Coma cluster, for which both a lensing measurement and gas observations from the X-ray surface brightness, the X-ray temperature, and the Sunyaev-Zel'dovich effect are available. Using the joint observational data set, we perform a Markov chain Monte Carlo analysis of the parameter space describing the different profiles in both the Newtonian and chameleon scenarios. We report competitive constraints on the chameleon field amplitude and its coupling strength to matter. In the case of f(R) gravity, corresponding to a specific choice of the coupling, we find an upper bound on the background field amplitude of |fR0| < 6 × 10−5, which is currently the tightest constraint on cosmological scales.
- modified gravity
- galaxy clusters