Volume 578, June 2015
|Number of page(s)||13|
|Published online||05 June 2015|
Active galactic nuclei cores in infrared-faint radio sources
Very long baseline interferometry observations using the Very Long Baseline Array
1 Astronomisches Institut, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universitätsstr. 150, 44801 Bochum, Germany
2 Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW 2109, Australia
3 CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science, Marsfield, PO Box 76, Epping, NSW 1710, Australia
4 Australian Astronomical Observatory, PO Box 915, North Ryde, NSW 1670, Australia
5 The Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy (ASTRON), Postbus 2, 7990 AA Dwingeloo, The Netherlands
6 University of Western Sydney, Locked Bag 1797, Penrith, NSW 2751, Australia
Received: 2 March 2015
Accepted: 31 March 2015
Context. Infrared-faint radio sources (IFRS) form a new class of galaxies characterised by radio flux densities between tenths and tens of mJy and faint or absent infrared counterparts. It has been suggested that these objects are radio-loud active galactic nuclei (AGNs) at significant redshifts (z ≳ 2).
Aims. Whereas the high redshifts of IFRS have been recently confirmed based on spectroscopic data, the evidence for the presence of AGNs in IFRS is mainly indirect. So far, only two AGNs have been unquestionably confirmed in IFRS based on very long baseline interferometry (VLBI) observations. In this work, we test the hypothesis that IFRS contain AGNs in a large sample of sources using VLBI.
Methods. We observed 57 IFRS with the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) down to a detection sensitivity in the sub-mJy regime and detected compact cores in 35 sources.
Results. Our VLBA detections increase the number of VLBI-detected IFRS from 2 to 37 and provide strong evidence that most – if not all – IFRS contain AGNs. We find that IFRS have a marginally higher VLBI detection fraction than randomly selected sources with mJy flux densities at arcsec-scales. Moreover, our data provide a positive correlation between compactness – defined as the ratio of milliarcsec- to arcsec-scale flux density – and redshift for IFRS, but suggest a decreasing mean compactness with increasing arcsec-scale radio flux density. Based on these findings, we suggest that IFRS tend to contain young AGNs whose jets have not formed yet or have not expanded, equivalent to very compact objects. We found two IFRS that are resolved into two components. The two components are spatially separated by a few hundred milliarcseconds in both cases. They might be components of one AGN, a binary black hole, or the result of gravitational lensing.
Key words: techniques: interferometric / galaxies: active / galaxies: high-redshift / galaxies: nuclei / radio continuum: galaxies
© ESO, 2015
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