Volume 526, February 2011
|Number of page(s)||19|
|Published online||13 January 2011|
Dying radio galaxies in clusters
INAF – Osservatorio Astronomico di Cagliari, Loc. Poggio dei
Pini, Strada 54,
Capoterra ( CA), Italy
2 INAF – Istituto di Radioastronomia, via Gobetti 101, 40129 Bologna, Italy
3 Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, 60 Garden St., Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
Received: 30 June 2010
Accepted: 29 October 2010
Aims. We present a study of five “dying” nearby (z ≤ 0.2) radio galaxies belonging to both the WENSS minisurvey and the B2 bright catalogs WNB1734+6407, WNB1829+6911, WNB1851+5707, B2 0120+33, and B2 1610+29.
Methods. These sources have been selected on the basis of their extremely steep broad-band radio spectra, which strongly indicates that either these objects belong to the rare class of dying radio galaxies or we are observing “fossil” radio plasma remaining from a previous instance of nuclear activity. We derive the relative duration of the dying phase from the fit of a synchrotron radiative model to the radio spectra of the sources.
Results. The modeling of the integrated spectra and the deep spectral index images obtained with the VLA confirmed that in these sources the central engine has ceased to be active for a significant fraction of their lifetime, although their extended lobes have not yet completely faded away. We found that WNB1851+5707 is in reality composed of two distinct dying galaxies, which appear blended together as a single source in the WENSS. In the cases of WNB1829+6911 and B2 0120+33, the fossil radio lobes are seen in conjunction with a currently active core. A very faint core is also detected in a MERLIN image of WNB1851+5707a, one of the two dying sources composing WNB1851+5707. We found that all sources in our sample are located (at least in projection) at the center of an X-ray emitting cluster.
Conclusions. Our results suggest that the duration of the dying phase for a radio source in a cluster can be significantly higher than that of a radio galaxy in the field, although no firm conclusions can be drawn because of the small number statistics involved. The simplest interpretation of the tendency for dying galaxies to be found in clusters is that the low-frequency radio emission from the fading radio lobes lasts longer if their expansion is somewhat reduced or even stopped. Another possibility is that the occurrence of dying sources is higher in galaxy clusters. We argue that radio sources in dense environments, such as the center of cooling core clusters, may have a peculiar accretion mode which results in a bursting duty cycle sequence of active and quiescent periods. This result could have important implications for theories of the life cycles of radio sources and AGN feedback in clusters of galaxies but awaits confirmation from future observations of larger, statistically significant, samples of objects.
Key words: radio continuum: galaxies / galaxies: active / galaxies: clusters: general
© ESO, 2011
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