The nature of compact radio-loud AGN: a systematic look at the LOFAR AGN population

J. Chilufya, M. J. Hardcastle, J. C. S. Pierce, J. H. Croston, B. Mingo, X. Zheng, R. D. Baldi, H. J. A. Röttgering

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We investigate the nature of low-luminosity radio-loud active galactic nuclei (RLAGN) selected from the LOFAR Two-metre Sky Survey (LoTSS) first data release (DR1). Using optical, mid-infrared, and radio data, we have conservatively selected 55 radiative AGN candidates from DR1 within the redshift range $0.03$$1-3$ kpc, 42 are compact at the limiting resolution of 0.35 arcsec (taking an upper limit on the projected physical size, this corresponds to less than 1 kpc), and three are undetected. The extended objects display a wide range of radio morphologies: two-jet (5), one-jet (4), and double-lobed (1). We present the radio spectra of all detected radio sources which range from steep to flat/inverted and span the range seen for other compact radio sources such as compact symmetric objects (CSOs), compact steep spectrum (CSS) sources, and gigahertz peaked-spectrum (GPS) sources. Assuming synchrotron self-absorption (SSA) for flat/inverted radio spectrum sources, we predict small physical sizes for compact objects to range between $2-53$ pc. Alternatively, using free-free absorption (FFA) models, we have estimated the free electron column depth for all compact objects, assuming a homogeneous absorber. We find that these objects do not occupy a special position on the power/linear size ($P-D$) diagram but some share a region with radio-quiet quasars (RQQs) and so-called `FR0' sources in terms of radio luminosity and linear size.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1472–1492
Number of pages21
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Early online date5 Mar 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Mar 2024


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