The relation between morphology, accretion modes and environmental factors in local radio AGN

M. A. Gendre, P. N. Best, J. V. Wall, L. M. Ker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The goal of this work is to determine the nature of the relation between morphology and accretion mode in radio galaxies, including environmental parameters. The CoNFIG extended catalogue (improved by new KS-band identifications and estimated redshifts from UKIRT Infrared Deep Sky Survey (UKIDSS), and spectral index measurements from new GMRT observations) is used to select a sub-sample of 206 radio galaxies with z ≤ 0.3 over a wide range of radio luminosity, which are morphology-classified using the Fanaroff-Riley (FR) classification of extended radio sources. For each galaxy, spectroscopic data are retrieved to determine the high/low excitation status of the source, related to its accretion mode. Environmental factors, such as the host galaxy luminosity and a richness factor, are also computed, generally using the Sloan Digital Sky Survey data. We find the following results: (1) at a given radio luminosity, the FR morphological split of sources is consistent with being the same for both accretion modes. This remains true if analysis is restricted to only rich or only poor environments. If confirmed with a larger sample, this would imply that extended radio morphology is independent of the accretion mode of the black hole, depending only on the power of the resultant jet, and its interactions with the larger-scale environment. (2) Excitation modes seem to be linked to the source environment, with high-excitation galaxies found almost exclusively in low-density environments while low-excitation galaxies occupy a wider range of densities; this result is independent of FR morphology, and is consistent with the different fuelling mechanisms expected for these excitation modes. (3) Independent of excitation mode, FRI sources are found to lie in higher density environments, on average, than FRII sources, consistent with FRI sources having their jets disrupted by a denser surrounding medium. However, there is a significant overlap in environment between the two classes, and no clear driving factor between the FRI and FRII sources is found even when combining radio luminosity, accretion mode, large-scale environment and host galaxy luminosity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3086-3101
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2013


  • catalogues
  • galaxies: active
  • galaxies: luminosity function
  • mass function
  • galaxies: statistics
  • radio continuum: galaxies


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