The evolution of 3CR radio galaxies from z1

Authors

  • R. J. McLure,

    Corresponding author
    1. Institute for Astronomy, University of Edinburgh, Blackford Hill, Edinburgh EH9 3HJ
    2. Nuclear and Astrophysics, Laboratory, University of Oxford, Keble Road, Oxford OX1 3RH
      ★ E-mail: rjm@astro.ox.ac.uk
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  • J. S. Dunlop

    1. Institute for Astronomy, University of Edinburgh, Blackford Hill, Edinburgh EH9 3HJ
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★ E-mail: rjm@astro.ox.ac.uk

Abstract

We present the results of a comprehensive re-analysis of the images of a virtually complete sample of 28 powerful 3CR radio galaxies with redshifts 0.6<z<1.8 from the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) archive. Using a two-dimensional modelling technique we have derived scalelengths and absolute magnitudes for a total of 16 3CR galaxies with a median redshift of z=0.8. Our results confirm the basic conclusions of Best, Longair & Röttgering in that we also find z=1 3CR galaxies to be massive, well-evolved ellipticals, the infrared emission of which is dominated by starlight. However, we in fact find that the scalelength distribution of 3CR galaxies at z≃1 is completely indistinguishable from that derived for their low-redshift counterparts from our own recently completed HST study of active galactic nuclei hosts at z≃0.2. There is thus no evidence that 3CR radio galaxies at z≃1 are dynamically different from 3CR galaxies at low redshift. Moreover, for a 10-object subsample we have determined the galaxy parameters with sufficient accuracy to demonstrate, for the first time, that the z≃1 3CR galaxies follow a Kormendy relation that is indistinguishable from that displayed by low-redshift ellipticals if one allows for purely passive evolution. The implied rather modest level of passive evolution since z≃1 is consistent with that predicted from spectrophotometric models provided one assumes a high formation redshift (z≥4) within a low-density universe. We conclude that there is no convincing evidence for significant dynamical evolution among 3CR galaxies in the redshift interval 0<z<1, and that simple passive evolution remains an acceptable interpretation of the Kz relation for powerful radio galaxies.

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