The doctoral dissertations of the former Helsinki University of Technology (TKK) and Aalto University Schools of Technology (CHEM, ELEC, ENG, SCI) published in electronic format are available in the electronic publications archive of Aalto University - Aaltodoc.

Multifrequency Studies of Gigahertz-Peaked Spectrum Sources and Candidates

Ilona Torniainen (née Jussila)

Dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Science in Technology to be presented with due permission of the Faculty of Electronics, Communications and Automation for public examination and debate in Auditorium S4 at Helsinki University of Technology (Espoo, Finland) on the 23rd of May, 2008, at 12 noon.

Overview in PDF format (ISBN 978-951-22-9355-1)   [1818 KB]
Dissertation is also available in print (ISBN 978-951-22-9354-4)


Gigahertz-peaked spectrum (GPS) sources are compact radio sources located in centres of distant active galaxies. The shape of the radio continuum spectrum of GPS sources is convex, the flux density increases towards high frequencies and decreases above a turnover at gigahertz-frequencies. Whereas the majority of extragalactic radio sources extend well outside of their host galaxies, these compact sources reside only in the central regions of their host. For this reason studying GPS sources can provide us with information on the structure and the properties of active galactic nuclei.

In this thesis, the radio spectra and the total flux density variability of GPS sources are studied. We have collected an extensive database of radio observations of GPS sources and candidates from the monitoring programmes of Metsähovi Radio Observatory and University of Michigan Radio Astronomy Observatory, and from the literature. We have also made new observations of the sources. In the literature, the GPS classification is often done using few non-simultaneous data points presuming that the sources are not variable. Our results show that this approach has produced samples that are heavily contaminated by misclassified sources. Among the quasar-type GPS sources classified in the literature, there is only a small fraction of genuine GPS sources as highly variable sources with temporary GPS features in their radio spectrum have been misclassified as GPS sources. The fraction of genuine GPS galaxies was found to be larger but the contamination was significant also in galaxy-type samples. In addition, the genuine GPS sources were found to be variable contrary to earlier conception.

Cluster analyses of GPS sources presented in this thesis also support the view of heterogeneous GPS samples. The blazar-type sources with temporarily gigahertz-peaked spectra clearly stood out as their own cluster, and the sources with confirmed GPS-type spectra formed several different clusters. This result supports the view that there are different types of genuine GPS sources.

This thesis consists of an overview and of the following 6 publications:

  1. Tornikoski, M., Jussila, I., Johansson, P., Lainela, M., and Valtaoja, E., 2001, Radio spectra and variability of gigahertz-peaked spectrum radio sources and candidates, The Astronomical Journal, volume 121, number 3, pages 1306-1318.
  2. Torniainen, I., Tornikoski, M., Teräsranta, H., Aller, M. F., and Aller, H. D., 2005, Long term variability of gigahertz-peaked spectrum sources and candidates, Astronomy & Astrophysics, volume 435, pages 839-856.
  3. Sambruna, R. M., Markwardt, C. B., Mushotzky, R. F., Tueller, J., Hartman, R., Brandt, W. N., Schneider, D. P., Falcone, A., Cucchiara, A., Aller, M. F., Aller, H. D., Torniainen, I., Tavecchio, F., Maraschi, L., Gliozzi, M., and Takahashi, T., 2006, Discovery of an extreme MeV blazar with the Swift Burst Alert Telescope, The Astrophysical Journal, volume 646, number 1, pages 23-35.
  4. Torniainen, I., Tornikoski, M., Lähteenmäki, A., Aller, M. F., Aller, H. D., and Mingaliev, M. G., 2007, Radio continuum spectra of gigahertz-peaked spectrum galaxies, Astronomy & Astrophysics, volume 469, pages 451-457.
  5. Hovatta, T., Tornikoski, M., Lainela, M., Lehto, H. J., Valtaoja, E., Torniainen, I., Aller, M. F., and Aller, H. D., 2007, Statistical analyses of long-term variability of AGN at high radio frequencies, Astronomy & Astrophysics, volume 469, pages 899-912.
  6. Torniainen, I., Tornikoski, M., Turunen, M., Lainela, M., Lähteenmäki, A., Hovatta, T., Mingaliev, M. G., Aller, M. F., and Aller, H. D., 2008, Cluster analyses of gigahertz-peaked spectrum sources with self-organising maps, Astronomy & Astrophysics, volume 482, pages 483-498.

Keywords: radio astronomy, radio continuum spectrum, active galactic nuclei, extragalactic radio sources

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© 2008 Helsinki University of Technology

Last update 2011-05-26