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Delayed triggering of radio active galactic nuclei in gas-rich minor mergers in the local Universe


Shabala, SS and Deller, A and Kaviraj, S and Middelberg, E and Turner, RJ and Ting, YS and Allison, JR and Davis, TA, Delayed triggering of radio active galactic nuclei in gas-rich minor mergers in the local Universe, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 464, (4) pp. 4706-4720. ISSN 0035-8711 (2017) [Refereed Article]


Copyright Statement

Copyright 2016 The Authors

DOI: doi:10.1093/mnras/stw2536


We examine the processes triggering star formation and active galactic nucleus (AGN) activity in a sample of 25 low-redshift (z < 0.13) gas-rich galaxy mergers observed at milliarcsecond resolution with Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) as part of the mJy Imaging VLBA Exploration at 20 cm (mJIVE-20) survey. The high (>107 K) brightness temperature required for an mJIVE-20 detection allows us to unambiguously identify the radio AGN in our sample. We find three such objects. Our VLBI AGN identifications are classified as Seyferts or lowionization nuclear emission-line regions (LINERs) in narrow line optical diagnostic plots; mid-infrared colours of our targets and the comparison of Hα star formation rates with integrated radio luminosity are also consistent with the VLBI identifications. We reconstruct star formation histories in our galaxies using optical and UV photometry, and find that these radio AGN are not triggered promptly in the merger process, consistent with previous findings for non-VLBI samples of radio AGN. This delay can significantly limit the efficiency of feedback by radio AGN triggered in galaxy mergers. We find that radio AGN hosts have lower star formation rates than non-AGN radio-selected galaxies at the same starburst age. Conventional and VLBI radio imaging shows these AGN to be compact on arcsecond scales. Our modelling suggests that the actual sizes of AGN-inflated radio lobes may be much larger than this, but these are too faint to be detected in existing observations. Deep radio imaging is required to map out the true extent of the AGN, and to determine whether the low star formation rates in radio AGN hosts are a result of the special conditions required for radio jet triggering, or the effect of AGN feedback.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:galaxies: formation, galaxies: evolution, galaxies: active, galaxies: interactions, techniques: high angular resolution
Research Division:Physical Sciences
Research Group:Astronomical sciences
Research Field:Cosmology and extragalactic astronomy
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in the physical sciences
UTAS Author:Shabala, SS (Associate Professor Stas Shabala)
UTAS Author:Turner, RJ (Dr Ross Turner)
ID Code:112821
Year Published:2017
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (DE130101399)
Web of Science® Times Cited:27
Deposited By:Mathematics and Physics
Deposited On:2016-11-30
Last Modified:2018-07-30
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