Metsähovi Radio Observatory, Helsinki University of Technology, Metsähovintie 114, 02540 Kylmälä, Finland e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
2 Department of Astronomy, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, 48109, USA
3 Special Astrophysical Observatory, Russian Academy of Sciences, Nizhnij Arkhyz, Karachaevo-Cherkesia 369167, Russia
Accepted: 13 March 2007
Context.Recent studies have shown that a remarkable share of quasars classified in the literature as gigahertz-peaked spectrum (GPS) sources and high frequency peakers (HFPs) are actually flaring flat-spectrum sources or blazars. Thus, at least among the quasar-type samples, genuine GPS sources and HFPs seem to be rare.
Aims.We have studied variability and the shape of the radio continuum spectra of a sample of 96 galaxy-type GPS sources and HFPs in order to find out whether there is a similar contamination in the galaxy-type samples.
Methods.We collected radio data for the sample from the literature, our long-term monitoring campaigns, and recent observations, and then plotted the radio continuum spectra. We also calculated the peak frequencies, the spectral indices, and the variability indices, and finally classified the sources according to these parameters.
Results.About 30% of the galaxies in our sample are clearly GPS sources, for another ~30% there are not enough data for a solid classification, and the rest are flat- or steep-spectrum sources.
Conclusions.The galaxy-type GPS samples seem to be cleaner than the quasar-type, but there is also a remarkable contamination of other source types among the galaxies. However, there may be a strong selection effect, originating from the different selection criteria of the original samples, which must be taken into consideration when comparing the results of this and our previous study. Both simultaneous spectra and long-term monitoring are essential when classifying convex-spectrum sources. However, even monitoring for several years may not reveal the variable nature of a source with a convex radio spectrum.
Key words: quasars: general / radio continuum: galaxies
© ESO, 2007