Jet impact in galaxy groups and clusters via LOFAR extragalactic surveys

Lead Research Organisation: Open University
Department Name: Physical Sciences

Abstract

Extragalactic jets are powered by matter falling onto supermassive black holes in galaxy centres, and act as cosmic engines transporting energy out into the wider galaxy and beyond into intergalactic space. The role of these jets in galaxy formation is an important unsolved problem in understanding how our Universe evolved to its current state. This project makes use of new low-frequency radio surveys from the Low-frequency Array (LOFAR), which are providing detailed images of jet structures for very large samples of jets in the local and distant Universe. The statistical power of these new datasets will allow many long-standing questions about extragalactic jets and their environments to be answered. By combining LOFAR surveys with information from other wavelengths (e.g. X-ray, infrared and optical observations) we aim to solve long-standing problems that limit our ability to measure how much energy the jets transport, and to develop ways of determining where the energy from jets at high redshifts ends up (and therefore how it affects the process of how galaxies and groups/clusters of galaxies evolve).

Planned Impact

The research in this proposal will inform public engagement activities as part of the OU's extensive public activities, which typically reach audiences that include (a) the science-inclined general public (b) new public audiences who have previously only had limited engagement with STEM (c) teachers of science at school and college level (d) young people, e.g. ages 10-14 and (e) older influencers of young people, such as parents, family, and group leaders. The Open University is a world leader in science public engagement, and astronomy features prominently in the OU's public engagement and broadcasting strategy. The OU has had a Partnership with the BBC for over 40 years and co-produces up to 25 peak time TV and radio series a year. We can commission across all BBC Television and Radio channels, the World Service, World News as well as other UK Public Service Broadcasters, digital and international channels. Co-productions cover a variety of formats. Broadcast commissions generate assets for teaching in learning directly from the programmes, from specially commissioned additional content or from related archive content. A round-up of the OU's broadcast contributions is at http://www.open.edu/openlearn/tv-radio-events . Our audience appreciation figures (AIs) are excellent, often in the upper seventies or above. Between 150 million and 300 million views and listens of OU-produced programmes take place each year in the UK. Between 150,000 and 300,000 viewers embark on a learning journey with the OU to receive more information on the programme topics, via our specially produced promotional items, or to engage with our interactive learning materials. Our objective is explicitly to encourage our audiences into informal and formal learning. All programmes have a call-to-action that encourages viewers to embark on a learning journey to find out more about the topics they have watched by ordering a free print item or visiting the OpenLearn website. Members of the Astronomy Research Discipline have been extremely active in many broadcasting projects as on-air contributors and as consultants, promoting and engaging the public in STFC-funded research including their own. It is a long-standing OU priority for our broadcasting to feature OU research. These are unrivalled and exceptional opportunities to highlight STFC science on a national scale. We are also regular contributors to prime-time radio and television, recently including BBC Radio 4 Start The Week, Radio 4 Inside Science, BBC News 24, BBC2 Sky At Night, ITV. The OU is also one of the leading worldwide providers of free online educational resources. We were one of the first universities on iTunes U and have recorded 70.2 million downloads to date. We average ~50,000 downloads per week, and recorded 1.4 million unique visitors last year alone. We also have four YouTube channels, which in total have 31.0 million video views as of 31 Dec 2015. In 2015 alone we had 5.8 million views (25.8% from the UK) from 2.8 million unique visitors. Our open educational resource platform OpenLearn supplies educational resources linked to BBC programmes, and has had 40.9 million downloads to date, and 4.9 million unique browser visits in 2015 alone, 53% of whom were outside the UK. We routinely use these platforms for public engagement and outreach of our research, benefitting especially from the prominence given to our online platforms in the calls to action in our BBC and Channel 4 broadcasting. We will actively seek opportunities to use these platforms to engage the public in our research in this grant.

Publications

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Cantwell T. M. (2020) Low-frequency observations of the giant radio galaxy NGC 6251 in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

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Croston J. H. (2018) Particle content, radio-galaxy morphology, and jet power: all radio-loud AGN are not equal in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

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Duffy R. T. (2018) The X-ray ribs within the cocoon shock of Cygnus A in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

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Hardcastle M (2020) Radio galaxies and feedback from AGN jets in New Astronomy Reviews

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Hardcastle M. J. (2019) NGC 326: X-shaped no more in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

 
Title LoMorph galaxy classification code 
Description Morphological classification code for radio astronomy surveys, as detailed in Mingo et al. (2019) MNRAS 488 2701. 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2019 
Open Source License? Yes  
Impact Applied to LOFAR Two-Metre Sky Survey, as detailed in Mingo et al. (2019) MNRAS 488 2701. 
URL https://github.com/bmingo/LoMorph
 
Description Astronomy society talk (Letchworth) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Public talk to a local astronomy society about the research funded under this grant
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Institute of Physics public lecture 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Public lecture "Tracing the lives of black holes: new views of the low-frequency sky" describing my research group's work funded through this grant, as part of a pan-European team, to carry out the largest radio survey to date.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018