Volume 580, August 2015
|Number of page(s)||14|
|Published online||05 August 2015|
Looking for the least luminous BL Lacertae objects
INAF − Osservatorio Astrofisico di Torino, via Osservatorio 20, 10025 Pino Torinese, Italy
Received: 13 February 2015
Accepted: 22 May 2015
Among active galactic nuclei, BL Lac objects show extreme properties that have been interpreted as the effect of relativistic beaming on the emission from a plasma jet oriented close to the line of sight. The Doppler amplification of the jet emission makes them ideal targets for studying jet physics. In particular, low-power BL Lacs (LPBL) are very interesting because they probe the jet formation and emission processes at the lowest levels of accretion. However, they are difficult to identify since their emission is swamped by the radiation from the host galaxy in most observing bands. In this paper we propose a new LPBL selection method based on the mid-infrared emission, in addition to the traditional optical indices. We considered the radio-selected sample of Best & Heckman (2012, MNRAS, 421, 1569) and cross-matched it with the WISE all-sky survey. In a new diagnostic plane including the W2−W3 color and the Dn(4000) index, LPBL are located in a region scarcely populated by other sources. By filtering objects with small emission line equivalent width, we isolated 36 LPBL candidates up to redshift 0.15. Their radio luminosity at 1.4 GHz spans the range log Lr = 39.2−41.5 [erg s-1]. Considering the completeness of our sample, we analyzed the BL Lac luminosity function (RLF), finding a dramatic paucity of LPBL with respect to the extrapolation of the RLF toward low power. This requires a break in the RLF located at log Lr ~ 40.6 [erg s-1]. The consequent peak in the BL Lacs number density is possibly the manifestation of a minimum power required to launch a relativistic jet.
Key words: galaxies: active / BL Lacertae objects: general / galaxies: jets
© ESO, 2015
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