In search of dying radio sources in the local universe*
INAF – Istituto di Radioastronomia, via Gobetti 101, 40129 Bologna, Italy
2 INAF – Osservatorio Astronomico di Cagliari, Loc. Poggio dei Pini, Strada 54, 09012 Capoterra, Cagliari, Italy
3 INAF – Osservatorio Astronomico di Bologna, via Ranzani 1, 40127 Bologna, Italy e-mail: email@example.com
Accepted: 10 May 2007
Aims.Up till now very few dying sources were known, presumably because the dying phase is short at centimeter wavelengths. We therefore have tried to improve the statistics on sources that have ceased to be active, or are intermittently active. The latter sources would partly consist of a fossil radio plasma left over from an earlier phase of activity, plus a recently restarted core and radio jets. Improving the statistics of dying sources will give us a better handle on the evolution of radio sources, in particular the frequency and time scales of radio activity.
Methods.We have used the WENSS and NVSS surveys, in order to find sources with steep spectral indices, associated with nearby elliptical galaxies. In the cross correlation we presently used only unresolved sources, with flux densities at 1.4 GHz larger than 10 mJy. The eleven candidates thus obtained were observed with the VLA in various configurations, in order to confirm the steepness of the spectra, and to check whether active structures like flat-spectrum cores and jets are present, perhaps at low levels. We estimated the duration of the active and relic phases by modelling the integrated radio spectra using the standard models of spectral evolution.
Results.We have found six dying sources and three restarted sources, while the remaining two candidates remain unresolved also with the new VLA data and may be Compact Steep Spectrum sources, with an unusually steep spectrum. The typical age of the active phase, as derived by spectral fits, is in the range years. For our sample of dying sources, the age of the relic phase is on average shorter by an order of magnitude than the active phase.
Key words: radio continuum: galaxies / galaxies: active
© ESO, 2007