Extremely deep 150 MHz source counts from the LoTSS Deep Fields

S. Mandal, I. Prandoni, M. J. Hardcastle, T. W. Shimwell, H. T. Intema, C. Tasse, R. J. van Weeren, H. Algera, K. L. Emig, H. J. A. Röttgering, D. J. Schwarz, T. M. Siewert, P. N. Best, M. Bonato, M. Bondi, M. J. Jarvis, R. Kondapally, S. K. Leslie, V. H. Mahatma, J. SabaterE. Retana-Montenegro, W. L. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


With the advent of new generation low-frequency telescopes, such as the LOw Frequency ARray (LOFAR), and improved calibration techniques, we have now started to unveil the sub GHz radio sky with unprecedented depth and sensitivity. The LOFAR Two Meter Sky Survey (LoTSS) is an ongoing project in which the whole northern radio sky will be observed at 150 MHz with a sensitivity better than 100 μJy beam−1 at a resolution of \asec{6}. Additionally, deeper observations are planned to cover smaller areas with higher sensitivity. The Lockman Hole, the Boötes and the Elais-N1 regions are among the most well known northern extra-galactic fields, and the deepest of the LoTSS Deep Fields so far. We exploit these deep observations to derive the deepest radio source counts at 150~MHz to date. Our counts are in broad agreement with those from the literature, and show the well known upturn at ≤ few mJy, mainly associated with the emergence of the star-forming galaxy population. More interestingly, our counts show for the first time a very pronounced drop around S∼2 mJy, which results in a prominent `bump' at sub-mJy flux densities. Such a feature was not observed in previous counts' determinations (neither at 150 MHz nor at higher frequency). While sample variance can play a role in explaining the observed discrepancies, we believe this is mostly the result of a careful analysis aimed at deblending confused sources and removing spurious sources and artifacts from the radio catalogues. This `drop and bump' feature cannot be reproduced by any of the existing state-of-the-art evolutionary models, and appears to be associated with a deficiency of AGN at intermediate redshift (1<z<2) and an excess of low-redshift (z<1) galaxies and/or AGN.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberA5
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
Publication statusPublished - 7 Apr 2021


  • astro-ph.GA
  • astro-ph.CO


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