Journal Article

Deep multi-frequency radio imaging in the Lockman Hole using the GMRT and VLA – I. The nature of the sub-mJy radio population

Edo Ibar, R. J. Ivison, A. D. Biggs, D. V. Lal, P. N. Best and D. A. Green

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 397, issue 1, pages 281-298
Published in print July 2009 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online July 2009 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2966.2009.14866.x
Deep multi-frequency radio imaging in the Lockman Hole using the GMRT and VLA – I. The nature of the sub-mJy radio population

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In the run up to routine observations with the upcoming generation of radio facilities, the nature of sub-mJy radio population has been hotly debated. Here, we describe multi-frequency data designed to probe the emission mechanism that dominates in these faint radio sources. Our analysis is based on observations of the Lockman Hole using the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT) – the deepest 610-MHz imaging yet reported – together with 1.4-GHz imaging from the Very Large Array (VLA), well matched in resolution and sensitivity to the GMRT data: σ610 MHz∼ 15 μJy beam−1, σ1.4 GHz∼ 6 μJy beam−1, full width at half-maximum (FWHM) ∼ 5 arcsec. The GMRT and VLA data are cross-matched to obtain the radio spectral indices for the faint radio emitters. Statistical analyses show no clear evolution for the median spectral index, α610 MHz1.4 GHz (where Sν∝να), as a function of flux density. α610 MHz1.4 GHz is found to be approximately −0.6 to −0.7, based on an almost unbiased 10σ criterion, down to a flux level of S1.4 GHz≳ 100 μJy. The fraction of inverted spectrum sources (α610 MHz1.4 GHz > 0) is less than 10 per cent. The results suggest that the most prevalent emission mechanism in the sub-mJy regime is optically thin synchrotron, ruling out a dominant flat spectrum or ultra-steep spectrum radio population. The spectral index distribution has a significant scatter, Δα≈ 0.4–0.5, which suggests a mixture of different populations at all flux levels. Spectroscopic classification of radio sources with X-ray emission has allowed us to estimate that the fraction of radio-quiet active galactic nuclei (AGN) at 30 μJy ≲S1.4 GHz < 300 μJy is roughly 25 ± 10 per cent, suggesting that star-forming galaxies dominate the sub-mJy regime.

Keywords: techniques: interferometric; galaxies: evolution; galaxies: starburst; radio continuum: galaxies

Journal Article.  13122 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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