The eMERGE Survey I: Very Large Array 5.5GHz observations of the GOODS-North Field

D Guidetti, M Bondi, I Prandoni, T. W. B. Muxlow, Robert Beswick, Nicholas Wrigley, I Smail, I McHardy, A.P. Thomson , Jack Radcliffe, Megan Argo

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    We present new observations of the GOODS-N field obtained at 5.5 GHz with the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA). The central region of the field was imaged to a median r.m.s. of 3 μJy beam−1 with a resolution of 0.5 arcsec. From a 14- arcmin diameter region we extracted a sample of 94 radio sources with signal-to-noise ratio greater than 5. Near-IR identifications are available for about 88 percent of the radio sources. We used different multi-band diagnostics to separate active galactic nuclei (AGN), both radiatively efficient and inefficient, from star-forming galaxies. From our analysis, we find that about 80 percent of our radio-selected sample is AGN- dominated, with the fraction raising to 92 percent when considering only the radio sources with redshift > 1.5. This large fraction of AGN-dominated radio sources at very low flux densities (the median flux density at 5.5GHz is 42 μJy), where star-forming galaxies are expected to dominate, is somewhat surprising and at odds with other results. Our interpretation is that both the frequency and angular resolution of our radio observations strongly select against radio sources whose brightness distribution is diffuse on scale of several kpc. Indeed, we find that the median angular sizes of the AGN-dominated sources is around 0.2-0.3 arcsec against 0.8 arcsec for star-forming galaxies. This highlights the key role that high frequency radio observations can play in pinpointing AGN-driven radio emission at μJy levels. This work is part of the eMERGE legacy project.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)210-226
    Number of pages17
    JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
    Issue number1
    Early online date15 Jul 2017
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017


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