RESOLVING THE RADIO SOURCE BACKGROUND: DEEPER UNDERSTANDING THROUGH CONFUSION

J. J. Condon, W. D. Cotton, E. B. Fomalont, K. I. Kellermann, N. Miller, R. A. Perley, D. Scott, T. Vernstrom, J. V. Wall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

181 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We used the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array to image one primary beam area at 3 GHz with 8 '' FWHM resolution and 1.0 mu Jy beam(-1) rms noise near the pointing center. The P(D) distribution from the central 10 arcmin of this confusion-limited image constrains the count of discrete sources in the 1 < S(mu Jy) < 10 range. At this level, the brightness-weighted differential count S(2)n(S) is converging rapidly, as predicted by evolutionary models in which the faintest radio sources are star-forming galaxies; and approximate to 96% of the background originating in galaxies has been resolved into discrete sources. About 63% of the radio background is produced by active galactic nuclei (AGNs), and the remaining 37% comes from star-forming galaxies that obey the far-infrared (FIR)/radio correlation and account for most of the FIR background at lambda approximate to 160 mu m. Our new data confirm that radio sources powered by AGNs and star formation evolve at about the same rate, a result consistent with AGN feedback and the rough correlation of black hole and stellar masses. The confusion at centimeter wavelengths is low enough that neither the planned Square Kilometre Array nor its pathfinder ASKAP EMU survey should be confusion limited, and the ultimate source detection limit imposed by "natural" confusion is

Original languageEnglish
Article number23
Number of pages14
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume758
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 10 Oct 2012
Externally publishedYes

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