Probing galaxy evolution below the noise threshold with radio observations
Malefahlo, Eliab D
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The faint radio population consisting of star forming galaxies (SFG) and radio-quiet active galactic nuclei (AGN) is important in the study of galaxy evolution. However, the bulk of the faint population is below the detection threshold of the current radio surveys. I study this population through a Bayesian-stacking technique that I have adapted to probe the radio luminosity function (RLF) below the typical 5σ detection threshold. The technique works by fitting RLF models to radio flux densities extracted at the position of galaxies selected from an auxiliary catalogue. I test the technique by adding Gaussian noise (σ) to simulated data and the RLF models are in agreement with the simulated data for up to three orders of magnitude (3 dex) below the detection threshold (5σ). The source of radio emission from radio quiet quasars (subset of AGN) is widely debated. I apply the technique to 1.4-GHz flux densities from the Faint Images of the Radio Sky at Twenty-cm survey (FIRST) at the positions of the optical quasars from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS). The RLF models are constrained to 2 dex below the FIRST detection threshold. I found that the radio luminosity where radio-quiet quasars emerge coincides with the luminosity where SFGs are expected to start to dominate the RLF. This Implies that the radio emission of radio-quiet quasars and radio-quiet AGN, in general, could have a significant contribution from star formation in the host galaxies.