We have combined optical data from the 2dF-SDSS (Sloan Digital Sky Survey) LRG (Luminous Red Galaxy) and QSO (quasi-stellar object) (2SLAQ) redshift survey with radio measurements from the 1.4 GHz VLA (Very Large Array) FIRST (Faint Images of the Radio Sky at Twenty-cm) and NVSS (NRAO VLA Sky Survey) surveys to identify a volume-limited sample of 391 radio galaxies at redshift 0.4 < z < 0.7. By determining an accurate radio luminosity function for luminous early-type galaxies in this redshift range, we can investigate the cosmic evolution of the radio-galaxy population over a wide range in radio luminosity. The low-power radio galaxies in our LRG sample (those with 1.4 GHz radio luminosities in the range 1024 to 1025 W Hz-1, corresponding to Fanaroff-Riley I (FR I) radio galaxies in the local Universe) undergo significant cosmic evolution over the redshift range 0 < z < 0.7, consistent with pure luminosity evolution of the form (1 + z)k, where k = 2.0 ± 0.3. Our results appear to rule out (at the 6-7σ level) models in which low-power radio galaxies undergo no cosmic evolution. The most powerful radio galaxies in our sample (with radio luminosities above 10 26 W Hz-1) may undergo more rapid evolution over the same redshift range. The evolution seen in the low-power radio-galaxy population implies that the total energy input into massive early-type galaxies from active galactic nucleus (AGN) heating increases with redshift, and was at least 50 per cent higher at z ∼ 0.55 (the median redshift of the 2SLAQ LRG sample) than in the local universe.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science