A Complete Study of Radio Galaxies at z ~ 0.5
Herbert, Peter David
In this thesis I investigate the hosts and cluster environments of a sample of 41 radio galaxies between z = 0.4 and z = 0.6. I use spectroscopic data for a 24 object subsample to investigate their star formation histories via the strength of the 4000A break. I find that the higher radio luminosity or high excitation objects in the sample have evidence for young stellar populations, but the lower radio luminosity or low excitation objects do not. My investigations into the Fundamental Plane (FP) of 18 of the radio galaxies, using the same spectroscopic data as well as data from the literature, show that the Fanaroff- Riley type I objects (FRIs) lie on the FP of local radio galaxies once corrected for passive evolution but the Fanaroff-Riley type II objects (FRIIs) do not. I suggest that an evolution in the size of the host galaxies, aided by a combination of passive evolution and a mass-dependent evolution in the mass-to-light ratios, may explain the observed offsets. Finally, I use wide field multi-band imaging to investigate the cluster environments of the full z ~ 0.5 sample. I find that the environmental overdensity is positively correlated with the radio luminosity and observe a greater number of close companions around the FRIIs than the FRIs (albeit with only nine FRIs in the sample). The cluster environments of the radio galaxies with the greatest host luminosities show tentative evidence for an alignment between the major axis of a galaxy and that of its cluster, whilst there are hints that the objects with the highest radio luminosities have clusters whose major axis is aligned with the position angle of the radio jet. My results suggest a picture in which FRII type radio sources reside in particularly rich cluster environments at z ~ 0.5 but FRI type radio sources in less rich environments. The environment plays a key role in determining both the radio properties of the galaxy and the evolution of its host. The effect of the environment on the emission line properties and star formation histories of the galaxies leads to the overlap seen in the morphological and spectral properties of radio galaxies.
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