Nuclear regions as seen with LOFAR international baselines A high-resolution study of the recurrent activity

N. Jurlin*, R. Morganti, F. Sweijen, L. K. Morabito, M. Brienza, P. Barthel, G. K. Miley

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Context. Radio galaxies dominate the sky at radio wavelengths and represent an essential piece in the galaxy evolution puzzle. Highresolution studies focussed on statistical samples of radio galaxies are expected to shed light on the triggering mechanisms of the active galactic nucleus in their centre, alternating between the phases of activity and quiescence. Aims. For this work, we zoomed in on the sub-arcsec radio structures in the central regions of the 35 radio galaxies in the area covering 6.6 deg2 of the Lockman Hole region. The sources studied here were previously classified as active, remnant, and candidate restarted radio galaxies based on the LOw Frequency ARray (LOFAR) observations at 150 MHz. We examined the morphologies and studied the spectral properties of their central regions to explore their evolutionary stages and to revise the morphological and spectral criteria used to select the initial sample. Methods. We used the newly available LOFAR 150MHz image obtained using international baselines, yielding a resolution of 0.38"× 0.30", making this the first systematic study of the nuclear regions at such a high resolution and low frequency. We used publicly available images from the Faint Images of the Radio Sky at Twenty-cm survey at 1.4 GHz and the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) Sky Survey at 3 GHz to achieve our goals. In addition, for one of the restarted candidates, we present new dedicated observations with the VLA at 3 GHz. Results. We characterised the central regions of the radio galaxies in our sample and found various morphologies, some even mimicking well-known double-double radio galaxies but on a smaller scale, that is, a few tens of kiloparsecs for the size of the restarted activity. We also see the beginnings of active jets or distinct detections unrelated to the large-scale structure. Furthermore, we found a variety of radio spectra characterising the sources in our sample, such as flat, steep, or peaked in the frequency range between 150MHz and 3 GHz, indicative of the different life-cycle phases of the sources in our sample. Based on these analyses, we confirm five out of six previously considered restarted candidates and identify three more restarted candidates from the active sample. As the number of restarted candidates still exceeds that of remnant candidates, this is consistent with previous results suggesting that the restarted phase can occur after a relatively short remnant phase (i.e. a few tens of millions of years).

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA118
Number of pages22
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
Volume682
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1-Feb-2024

Keywords

  • galaxies: active
  • radio continuum: galaxies
  • surveys

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