Dwarf spheroidal (dSph) galaxies are key objects in near-field cosmology, especially in connection to the study of galaxy formation and evolution at small scales. In addition, dSphs are optimal targets to investigate the nature of dark matter. However, while we begin to have deep optical photometric observations of the stellar population in these objects, little is known so far about their diffuse emission at any observing frequency, and hence on thermal and non-thermal plasma possibly residing within dSphs. In this paper, we present deep radio observations of six local dSphs performed with the Australia Telescope Compact Array (ATCA) at 16 cm wavelength. We mosaicked a region of radius of about 1 deg around three `classical' dSphs, Carina, Fornax, and Sculptor, and of about half of degree around three `ultrafaint' dSphs, BootesII, Segue2, and Hercules. The rms noise level is below 0.05 mJy for all the maps. The restoring beams full width at half-maximum ranged from 4.2 arcsec × 2.5 arcsec to 30.0 arcsec × 2.1 arcsec in the most elongated case. A catalogue including the 1392 sources detected in the six dSph fields is reported. The main properties of the background sources are discussed, with positions and fluxes of brightest objects compared with the FIRST, NVSS, and SUMSS observations of the same fields. The observed population of radio emitters in these fields is dominated by synchrotron sources. We compute the associated source number counts at 2 GHz down to fluxes of 0.25 mJy, which prove to be in agreement with AGN count models.
- galaxies: dwarf
- radio continuum: galaxies