A re-assessment of the nearest neighbour alignment of the X-ray isophotes of galaxy clusters
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Alignment is defined as the tendency of the distribution of pointing angles between the major axes of clusters and their nearest neighbours to be more concentrated towards small values for small nearest neighbour distances, whereas the distribution is expected to be uniform over all angles at larger distances. Conflicting pronouncements on the reality of this effect have been published in the astronomy literature. A re-assessment of the evidence for alignment is presented, based on three recently published X-ray data sets. We find that whereas there is evidence for alignment, it is not as convincing as previously claimed. In particular, the scale to which the effect has been claimed to extend seems to have been severely overstated.