The distribution of polarized radio sources >15 μjy in goods-N

L. Rudnick, F. N. Owen

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49 Scopus citations


We present deep Very Large Array observations of the polarization of radio sources in the GOODS-N field at 1.4 GHz at resolutions of 1.″6 and 10″. At 1.″6, we find that the peak flux cumulative number count distribution is N(> p)45*(p/30 μJy)-0.6 per square degree above a detection threshold of 14.5 μJy. This represents a break from the steeper slopes at higher flux densities, resulting in fewer sources predicted for future surveys with the Square Kilometer Array and its precursors. It provides a significant challenge for using background rotation measures (RMs) to study clusters of galaxies or individual galaxies. Most of the polarized sources are well above our detection limit, and they are also radio galaxies that are well-resolved even at 10″, with redshifts from 0.2-1.9. We determined a total polarized flux for each source by integrating the 10″ polarized intensity maps, as will be done by upcoming surveys such as POSSUM. These total polarized fluxes are a factor of two higher, on average, than the peak polarized flux at 1.″6; this would increase the number counts by 50% at a fixed flux level. The detected sources have RMs with a characteristic rms scatter of 11 rad m-2 around the local Galactic value, after eliminating likely outliers. The median fractional polarization from all total intensity sources does not continue the trend of increasing at lower flux densities, as seen for stronger sources. The changes in the polarization characteristics seen at these low fluxes likely represent the increasing dominance of star-forming galaxies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number45
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 10 2014


  • galaxies: active
  • polarization
  • radio continuum: galaxies
  • techniques: polarimetric


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