We present 5.5 GHz observations with the Very Large Array of a sample of nearby galaxies with energetic nuclear outbursts at mid-infrared (MIR) bands. These observations reach a uniform depth down to a median rms of ∼10 μJy, representing one of the most sensitive searches for radio emission associated with nuclear transients. We detect radio emission in 12 out of 16 galaxies at a level of >5σ, corresponding to a detection rate of 75%. Such a high detection is remarkably different from previous similar searches in stellar tidal disruption events. The radio emission is compact and not resolved for the majority of sources on scales of ≲0"5 (<0.9 kpc at z < 0.1). We find that the possibility of the star formation contributing to the radio emission is low, but an active galactic nucleus (AGN) origin remains a plausible scenario, especially for sources that show evidence of AGN activity in their optical spectra. If the detections could represent radio emission associated with a nuclear transient phenomenon such as a jet or outflow, we could use the blast wave model by analogy with the gamma-ray burst afterglows to describe the evolution of radio light curves. In this context, the observations are consistent with a decelerating jet with an energy of ∼1051-52 erg viewed at 30°-60° off-axis at later times, suggesting that powerful jets may be ubiquitous among MIR-burst galaxies. Future continuous monitoring observations will be crucial to decipher the origin of radio emission through detections of potential flux and spectral evolution. Our results highlight the importance of radio observations to constrain the nature of nuclear MIR outbursts in galaxies.
The Astrophysical Journal
- Pub Date:
- June 2020
- Astrophysics - High Energy Astrophysical Phenomena;
- Astrophysics - Astrophysics of Galaxies
- 8 pages, 4 figures, 1 table, Accepted for publication in ApJ Letters