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Groups and Clusters of Galaxies: Where Cosmology and Astrophysics Collide

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Groups and clusters of galaxies are the most massive gravitationally bound objects in the Universe. They are also the most recent cosmic objects to form. In the currently accepted models of cosmic structure formation, the number density distribution of the most massive of these systems, and how this has been changing with time, depend sensitively to the parameters describing the large-scale geometry and the expansion history of the universe. However, to exploit galaxy clusters as cosmological probes, we must be able to relate their observable properties to their total mass. I will discuss our ongoing effort to calibrate the X-ray/SZ observations to the total mass for the 50 clusters comprising the Canadian Cluster Comparison Project (CCCP) sample. Resulting scaling relations, the associated scatter, and even how these change with time, invariably depend on "astrophysics" unfolding in these systems. The precision with which the cosmological parameters can be determined depends critically on how well we understand why groups and clusters manifest the observed properties that they do. This, however, has proven challenging. I will provide an update of the current state of affairs and highlight some of the key gaps in our understanding of the underlying physics.