Remnant radio-loud AGN in the Herschel-ATLAS field

V. H. Mahatma, M. J. Hardcastle, W. L. Williams, M. Brienza, M. Bruggen, J. H. Croston, G. Gurkan, J. J. Harwood, M. Kunert-Bajraszewska, R. Morganti, H. J. A. Rottgering, T. W. Shimwell, C. Tasse

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Only a small fraction of observed active galactic nuclei (AGN) display large-scale radio emission associated with jets, yet these radio-loud AGN have become increasingly important in models of galaxy evolution. In determining the dynamics and energetics of the radio sources over cosmic time, a key question concerns what happens when their jets switch off. The resulting 'remnant' radio-loud AGN have been surprisingly evasive in past radio surveys, and therefore statistical information on the population of radio-loud AGN in their dying phase is limited. In this paper, with the recent developments of Low-Frequency Array (LOFAR) and theVery Large Array, we are able to provide a systematically selected sample of remnant radioloud AGN in the Herschel-ATLAS field. Using a simple core-detection method, we constrain the upper limit on the fraction of remnants in our radio-loud AGN sample to 9 per cent, implying that the extended lobe emission fades rapidly once the core/jets turn off. We also find that our remnant sample has a wide range of spectral indices (-1.5 ≤ α 1400 150 ≤ -0.5), confirming that the lobes of some remnants may possess flat spectra at low frequencies just as active sources do. We suggest that, even with the unprecedented sensitivity of LOFAR, our sample may still only contain the youngest of the remnant population.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbersty025
Pages (from-to)4557–4578
Number of pages22
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number4
Early online date9 Jan 2018
Publication statusPublished - 21 Apr 2018


  • Galaxies: Active
  • galaxies: jets
  • Methods: statistical
  • Radio continuum: galaxies


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