Effect of asymmetry of the radio source distribution on the apparent proper motion kinematic analysis*
Geoscience Australia, GPO Box 378, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia
2 Central Astronomical Observatory at Pulkovo of RAS, Pulkovskoe Ch. 65, St. Petersburg 196140, Russia e-mail: email@example.com
Accepted: 24 July 2009
Context. Information on physical characteristics of astrometric radio sources, such as magnitude and redshift, is of great importance for many astronomical studies. However, data usually used in radio astrometry is often incomplete and outdated.
Aims. Our purpose is to study the optical characteristics of more than 4000 radio sources observed by the astrometric VLBI technique since 1979. We also studied the effect of the asymmetry in the distribution of the reference radio sources on the correlation matrices between vector spherical harmonics of the first and second degrees.
Methods. The radio source characteristics were mainly taken from the NASA/IPAC Extragalactic Database (NED). Characteristics of the gravitational lenses were checked with the CfA-Arizona Space Telescope LEns Survey. SIMBAD and HyperLeda databases were also used to clarify the characteristics of some objects. Also we simulated and investigated a list of 4000 radio sources evenly distributed around the celestial sphere. We estimated the correlation matrices between the vector spherical harmonics using the real as well as modelled distribution of the radio sources.
Results. A new list OCARS (optical characteristics of astrometric radio sources) of 4261 sources has been compiled. Comparison of our data of optical characteristics with the official International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service (IERS) list showed significant discrepancies for about half of the 667 common sources. Finally, we found that asymmetry in the radio source distribution between hemispheres could cause significant correlation between the vector spherical harmonics, especially in the case of sparse distribution of the sources with high redshift. We also identified radio sources having a many-year observation history and lack of redshift. These sources should be urgently observed with large optical telescopes.
Conclusions. The list of optical characteristics created in this paper is recommended for use as a supplementary material for the next international celestial reference frame (ICRF) realization. It can be also effectively used for cosmological studies and planning of observing programs both in radio and optical wavelength.
Key words: astrometry / techniques: interferometric / astronomical data bases: miscellaneous / cosmology: miscellaneous
© ESO, 2009