Journal Article

A search for gravitationally lensed water masers in dusty quasars and star-forming galaxies

J. P. McKean, C. M. V. Impellizzeri, A. L. Roy, P. Castangia, F. Samuel, A. Brunthaler, C. Henkel and O. Wucknitz

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 410, issue 4, pages 2506-2515
Published in print February 2011 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online January 2011 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
A search for gravitationally lensed water masers in dusty quasars and star-forming galaxies

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Luminous extragalactic water masers are known to be associated with active galactic nuclei and have provided accurate estimates for the mass of the central supermassive black hole and the size and structure of the circumnuclear accretion disc in nearby galaxies. To find water maser systems at much higher redshifts, we have begun a survey of known gravitationally lensed quasars and star-forming galaxies. In this paper, we present a search for 22 GHz (rest-frame) water masers towards five dusty, gravitationally lensed quasars and star-forming galaxies at redshifts between 2.3 and 2.9 with the Effelsberg radio telescope and the Expanded Very Large Array (EVLA). Our observations do not find any new definite examples of high-redshift water maser galaxies, suggesting that large reservoirs of dust and gas are not a sufficient condition for powerful water maser emission. However, we do find the tentative detection of a water maser system in the active galaxy IRAS 10214+4724 at redshift 2.285. Our survey has now doubled the number of gravitationally lensed galaxies and quasars that have been searched for high-redshift water maser emission. We also present an updated analysis of the high-redshift water maser luminosity function that is based on the results presented here and from the only cosmologically distant (z > 1) water maser galaxy found thus far, MG J0414+0534 at redshift 2.64. By comparing with the water maser luminosity function locally and at moderate redshifts, we find that there must be some evolution in the luminosity function of water maser galaxies at high redshifts. By assuming a moderate evolution [(1 +z)4] in the water maser luminosity function, we find that blind surveys for water maser galaxies are only worthwhile with extremely high sensitivity like that of the planned Square Kilometre Array (Phase 2), which is scheduled to be completed by 2020. However, instruments like the EVLA and MeerKAT will be capable of detecting water maser systems similar to the one found from MG J0414+0534 through dedicated pointed observations, providing suitable high-redshift targets can be selected.

Keywords: gravitational lensing: strong; masers; galaxies: nuclei; galaxies: starburst; radio lines: galaxies

Journal Article.  7406 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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