Publications by Katherine Blundell


Inverse Compton X-ray halos around high-z radio galaxies: A feedback mechanism powered by far-infrared starbursts or the CMB?

ArXiv (0)

I Smail, KM Blundell, BD Lehmer, DM Alexander

We report the detection of extended X-ray emission around two powerful high-z radio galaxies (HzRGs) at z~3.6 (4C03.24 & 4C19.71) and use these to investigate the origin of extended, Inverse Compton (IC) powered X-ray halos at high z. The halos have X-ray luminosities of Lx~3e44 erg/s and sizes of ~60kpc. Their morphologies are broadly similar to the ~60-kpc long radio lobes around these galaxies suggesting they are formed from IC scattering by relativistic electrons in the radio lobes, of either CMB or FIR photons from the dust-obscured starbursts in these galaxies. These observations double the number of z>3 HzRGs with X-ray detected IC halos. We compare the IC X-ray to radio luminosity ratios for these new detections to the two previously detected z~3.8 HzRGs. Given the similar redshifts, we would expect comparable X-ray IC luminosities if CMB mm photons are the seed field for the IC emission. Instead the two z~3.6 HzRGs, which are ~4x fainter in the FIR, also have ~4x fainter X-ray IC emission. Including a further six z>2 radio sources with IC X-ray halos from the literature, we suggest that in the more compact (lobe sizes <100-200kpc), majority of radio sources, the bulk of the IC emission may be driven by scattering of locally produced FIR photons from luminous, dust-obscured starbursts within these galaxies, rather than CMB photons. The resulting X-ray emission can ionise the gas on ~100-200-kpc scales around these systems and thus form their extended Ly-alpha emission line halos. The starburst and AGN activity in these galaxies are thus combining to produce an effective and wide-spread "feedback" process, acting on the long-term gas reservoir for the galaxy. If episodic radio activity and co-eval starbursts are common in massive, high-z galaxies, then this IC-feedback mechanism may affect the star-formation histories of massive galaxies. [Abridged]


The X-ray luminous cluster underlying the z = 1.04 quasar PKS1229-021

ArXiv (0)

HR Russell, AC Fabian, GB Taylor, JS Sanders, KM Blundell, CS Crawford, RM Johnstone, E Belsole

We present a 100 ks Chandra observation studying the extended X-ray emission around the powerful z=1.04 quasar PKS1229-021. The diffuse cluster X-ray emission can be traced out to ~15 arcsec (~120 kpc) radius and there is a drop in the calculated hardness ratio inside the central 5 arcsec consistent with the presence of a cool core. Radio observations of the quasar show a strong core and a bright, one-sided jet leading to the SW hot spot and a second hot spot visible on the counter-jet side. Although the wings of the quasar PSF provided a significant contribution to the total X-ray flux at all radii where the extended cluster emission was detected, we were able to accurately subtract off the PSF emission using ChaRT and marx simulations. The resulting steep cluster surface brightness profile for PKS1229-021 appears similar to the profile for the FRII radio galaxy 3C444, which has a similarly rapid surface brightness drop caused by a powerful shock surrounding the radio lobes (Croston et al.). Using a model surface brightness profile based on 3C444, we estimated the total cluster luminosity for PKS1229-021 to be L_X ~ 2 x 10^{44} erg/s. We discuss the difficulty of detecting cool core clusters, which host bright X-ray sources, in high redshift surveys.


When Microquasar Jets and Supernova Collide: Hydrodynamically Simulating the SS433-W50 Interaction

ArXiv (0)

PT Goodall, F Alouani-Bibi, KM Blundell

We present investigations of the interaction between the relativistic, precessing jets of the microquasar SS433 with the surrounding, expanding Supernova Remnant (SNR) shell W50, and the consequent evolution in the inhomogeneous Interstellar Medium (ISM). We model their evolution using the hydrodynamic FLASH code, which uses adaptive mesh refinement. We show that the peculiar morphology of the entire nebula can be reproduced to a good approximation, due to the combined effects of: (i) the evolution of the SNR shell from the free-expansion phase through the Sedov blast wave in an exponential density profile from the Milky Way disc, and (ii) the subsequent interaction of the relativistic, precessing jets of SS 433. Our simulations reveal: (1) Independent measurement of the Galaxy scale-height and density local to SS433 (as n_0 = 0.2 cm^{-3}, Z_d = 40 pc), with this scale-height being in excellent agreement with the work of Dehnen & Binney. (2) A new mechanism for hydrodynamic refocusing of conical jets. (3) The current jet precession characteristics do not simply extrapolate back to produce the lobes of W50 but a history of episodic jet activity having at least 3 different outbursts with different precession characteristics would be sufficient to produce the W50 nebula. A history of intermittent episodes of jet activity from SS433 is also suggested in a kinematic study of W50 detailed in a companion paper (Goodall et al, MNRAS submitted). (4) An estimate of the age of W50, and equivalently the age of SS433's black hole created during the supernova explosion, in the range of 17,000 - 21,000 years.


Two types of shock in the hotspot of the giant quasar 4C74.26: a high-resolution comparison from Chandra, Gemini & MERLIN

ArXiv (0)

M Erlund, A Fabian, K Blundell, C Crawford, P Hirst

New Chandra observations have resolved the structure of the X-ray luminous southern hotspot in the giant radio quasar 4C74.26 into two distinct features. The nearer one to the nucleus is an extremely luminous peak, extended some 5 kpc perpendicular to the orientation of the jet; 19 kpc projected further away from the central nucleus than this is a fainter X-ray arc having similar symmetry. This arc is co-spatial with near-IR and optical emission imaged with Gemini, and radio emission imaged with MERLIN. The angular separation of the double shock structure (itself ~19 kpc or 10 arcsec in size) from the active nucleus which fuels them of ~550 kpc is a reminder of the challenge of connecting "unidentified" hard X-ray or Fermi sources with their origins.


Opacity effects and shock-in-jet modelling of low-level activity in Cygnus X-3

ArXiv (0)

JCA Miller-Jones, MP Rupen, M Türler, EJ Lindfors, KM Blundell, GG Pooley

We present simultaneous dual-frequency radio observations of Cygnus X-3 during a phase of low-level activity. We constrain the minimum variability timescale to be 20 minutes at 43 GHz and 30 minutes at 15 GHz, implying source sizes of 2 to 4 AU. We detect polarized emission at a level of a few per cent at 43 GHz which varies with the total intensity. The delay of approximately 10 minutes between the peaks of the flares at the two frequencies is seen to decrease with time, and we find that synchrotron self-absorption and free-free absorption by entrained thermal material play a larger role in determining the opacity than absorption in the stellar wind of the companion. A shock-in-jet model gives a good fit to the lightcurves at all frequencies, demonstrating that this mechanism, which has previously been used to explain the brighter, longer-lived giant outbursts in this source, is also applicable to these low-level flaring events. Assembling the data from outbursts spanning over two orders of magnitude in flux density shows evidence for a strong correlation between the peak brightness of an event, and the timescale and frequency at which this is attained. Brighter flares evolve on longer timescales and peak at lower frequencies. Analysis of the fitted model parameters suggests that brighter outbursts are due to shocks forming further downstream in the jet, with an increased electron normalisation and magnetic field strength both playing a role in setting the strength of the outburst.


Multiwavelength study of Cygnus A II. X-ray inverse-Compton emission from a relic counterjet and implications for jet duty-cycles

ArXiv (0)

KC Steenbrugge, KM Blundell, P Duffy

The duty-cycle of powerful radio galaxies and quasars such as the prototype Cygnus A is poorly understood. X-ray observations of inverse-Compton scattered Cosmic Microwave Background (ICCMB) photons probe lower Lorentz-factor particles than radio observations of synchrotron emission. Comparative studies of the nearer and further lobes, separated by many 10s of kpc and thus 10s of thousands of years in light-travel time, yield additional temporal resolution in studies of the lifecycles. We have co-added all archival Chandra ACIS-I data and present a deep 200 ks image of Cygnus A. This deep image reveals the presence of X-ray emission from a counterjet i.e. a jet receding from Earth and related to a previous episode of jet activity. The non-thermal X-ray emission, we interpret as ICCMB radiation. There is an absence of any discernible X-ray emission associated with a jet flowing towards Earth. We conclude that: (1) The emission from a relic jet, indicates a previous episode of jet activity, that took place earlier than the current jet activity appearing as synchrotron radio emission. (2) The presence of X-ray emission from a relic counterjet of Cygnus A and the absence of X-ray emission associated with any relic approaching jet constrains the timescale between successive episodes of jet activity to ~10^6 years. (3) Transverse expansion of the jet causes expansion losses which shifts the energy distribution to lower energies. (4) Assuming the electrons cooled due to adiabatic expansion, the required magnetic field strength is substantially smaller than the equipartition magnetic field strength. (5) A high minimum Lorentz factor for the distribution of relativistic particles in the current jet, of a few 10^3, is ejected from the central nucleus of this active galaxy. Abridged.


The prevalence of FRI radio quasars

ArXiv (0)

I Heywood, KM Blundell, S Rawlings

We present deep, multi-VLA-configuration radio images for a set of 18 quasars, having redshifts between 0.36 and 2.5, from the 7C quasar survey. Approximately one quarter of these quasars have FRI-type twin-jet structures and the remainder are a broad range of wide angle tail, fat double, classical double, core-jet and hybrid sources. These images demonstrate that FRI quasars are prevalent in the universe, rather than non-existent as had been suggested in the literature prior to the serendipitous discovery of the first FRI quasar a few years ago, the optically powerful "radio quiet" quasar E1821+643. Some of the FRI quasars have radio luminosities exceeding the traditional FRI / FRII break luminosity, however we find no evidence for FRII quasars with luminosities significantly below the break. We consider whether the existence of such high luminosity FRI structures is due to the increasingly inhomogeneous environments in the higher redshift universe.


Extended inverse-Compton emission from distant, powerful radio galaxies

ArXiv (0)

MC Erlund, AC Fabian, KM Blundell, A Celotti, CS Crawford

We present Chandra observations of two relatively high redshift FRII radio galaxies, 3C 432 and 3C 191 (z=1.785 and z=1.956 respectively), both of which show extended X-ray emission along the axis of the radio jet or lobe. This X-ray emission is most likely to be due to inverse-Compton scattering of Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) photons. Under this assumption we estimate the minimum energy contained in the particles responsible. This can be extrapolated to determine a rough estimate of the total energy. We also present new, deep radio observations of 3C 294, which confirm some association between radio and X-ray emission along the NE-SW radio axis and also that radio emission is not detected over the rest of the extent of the diffuse X-ray emission. This, together with the offset between the peaks of the X-ray and radio emissions may indicate that the jet axis in this source is precessing.


Post-outburst radio spectral evolution of Cygnus X-3

ASP Conference Proceedings (0)

JCA Miller-Jones, KM Blundell, MP Rupen, AJ Beasley, AJ Mioduszewski

Multifrequency VLA and OVRO observations of the radio outburst of Cygnus X-3 in September 2001 are presented, illustrating the evolution of the spectrum of the source over a period of six days. An estimate of the magnetic field in the emitting region is made from the spectral turnover and possible explanations for the spectral evolution are suggested.


A sample of 6C radio sources designed to find objects at redshift > 4: III --- imaging and the radio galaxy K-z relation

ArXiv (0)

MJ Jarvis, S Rawlings, S Eales, KM Blundell, AJ Bunker, S Croft, RJ McLure, CJ Willott

In this paper, the third and final of a series, we present complete K-band imaging and some complementary I-band imaging of the filtered 6C* sample. We find no systematic differences between the K-z relation of 6C* radio galaxies and those from complete samples, so the near-infrared properties of luminous radio galaxies are not obviously biased by the additional 6C* radio selection criteria (steep spectral index and small angular size). The 6C* K-z data significantly improve delineation of the K-z relation for radio galaxies at high-redshift (z >2). Accounting for non-stellar contamination, and for correlations between radio luminosity and stellar mass, we find little support for previous claims that the underlying scatter in the stellar luminosity of radio galaxies increases significantly at z >2. In a particular spatially-flat universe with a cosmological constant, the most luminous radio sources appear to be associated with galaxies with a luminosity distribution with a high mean (~5 Lstar), and a low dispersion (sigma ~ 0.5 mag) which formed their stars at epochs corresponding to z >~2.5. This result is in line with recent sub-mm studies of high-redshift radio galaxies and the inferred ages of extremely red objects from faint radio samples.


The inevitable youthfulness of known high-redshift radio galaxies

ArXiv (0)

KM Blundell, S Rawlings

Radio galaxies can be seen out to very high redshifts, where in principle they can serve as probes of the early evolution of the Universe. Here we show that for any model of radio-galaxy evolution in which the luminosity decreases with time after an initial rapid increase (that is, essentially all reasonable models), all observable high-redshift radio-galaxies must be seen when the lobes are less than 10^7 years old. This means that high-redshift radio galaxies can be used as a high-time-resolution probe of evolution in the early Universe. Moreover, this result helps to explain many observed trends of radio-galaxy properties with redshift [(i) the `alignment effect' of optical emission along radio-jet axes, (ii) the increased distortion in radio structure, (iii) the decrease in physical sizes, (iv) the increase in radio depolarisation, and (v) the increase in dust emission] without needing to invoke explanations based on cosmology or strong evolution of the surrounding intergalactic medium with cosmic time, thereby avoiding conflict with current theories of structure formation.


New results from complete samples of faint radio galaxies and quasars

IAU SYMP (1996) 567-568

KM Blundell, S Rawlings, SA Eales, M Lacy


A multi-radio-frequency study of a RQQ

IAU SYMP (1996) 185-186

KM Blundell, M Lacy


A radio galaxy at redshift 4.41

Nature 383 (1996) 502-505

S Rawlings, M Lacy, KM Blundell, SA Eales, AJ Bunker, ST Garrington

THE most distant astronomical objects observed are quasars at redshifts of z ≃ 4.9 (ref. 1), corresponding to a time when the Universe was less than a billion years old. This leaves little time during which the quasars and their host galaxies could form. In principle, the evolutionary state of the host galaxies can be probed by determining how many stars have formed, but this task is not straightforward because light from the quasar itself overwhelms any accompanying starlight. High-redshift radio galaxies-the likely progenitors of luminous elliptical galaxies-provide better targets for such studies, as optical emissions from their active nuclei are observed to be faint. Here we report the discovery of a radio galaxy (6C0140 + 326) at z = 4.41 which shows no evidence for either a stellar continuum or an unobscured quasar nucleus. We conclude that the galaxy associated with the radio source is neither fully formed nor obviously in the process of forming stars. This implies that at least some giant elliptical galaxies are still immature at z ≃ 4.5, and that if the intense bursts of star formation thought to produce the bulk of their stellar populations occur during the radio-bright phase, these star-forming regions are obscured by dust and gas.


Spectral index asymmetries in double radio sources and the unified model

Vistas in Astronomy 40 (1996) 179-184

KM Blundell

A model is presented which reconciles the conflicting implications of the Garrington-Laing effect and the Liu-Pooley effect, which had caused difficulties for the projection model and hence for unified schemes. I also show that DPM asymmetries are significantly larger for quasars than for radio galaxies, adding further weight to the suggestion that quasars are closer to the line of sight. Copyright ©1996 Elsevier Science Ltd.


Evidence for widely separated primary and secondary hotspots in 3C 171

Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 283 (1996) 538-542

KM Blundell

A multi-radio-frequency study of the unusual structure of the radio galaxy 3C 171 is presented. A spectral index study is used to make deductions about the origins of the plumes which emanate from the hotspots. Optical images are overlaid on radio maps which give support to the inference that the plumes are diverted backflow from the hotspots. Evidence is presented which supports the interpretation of the region of enhanced brightness in the north-west plume as a quasi-hotspot, and thus that there is a widely separated primary and secondary hotspot pair in 3C 171.


A MULTI-RADIO-FREQUENCY STUDY OF THE RADIO-QUIET QUASAR E1821+643

MONTHLY NOTICES OF THE ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY 274 (1995) L9-L13

KM BLUNDELL, M LACY


SPECTRAL-INDEX ASYMMETRIES IN RADIO GALAXIES - THE EFFECTS OF PROJECTION AND LIGHT TRAVEL-TIME

MONTHLY NOTICES OF THE ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY 267 (1994) 241-246

KM BLUNDELL, P ALEXANDER


THE GIANT RADIO QUASAR 4C74.26 - PC TO MPC SCALE STRUCTURE

(1993) 261-262

KM BLUNDELL, PJ WARNER, JM RILEY, TJ PEARSON, P ALEXANDER


A JET IN THE NUCLEUS OF THE GIANT QUASAR 4C-74.26

MONTHLY NOTICES OF THE ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY 259 (1992) P13-P16

TJ PEARSON, KM BLUNDELL, JM RILEY, PJ WARNER

Pages