Brightest Cluster Galaxy Formation in the z = 4.3 Protocluster SPT 2349-56: Discovery of a Radio-loud Active Galactic Nucleus

Scott C. Chapman, Ryley Hill, Manuel Aravena, Melanie Archipley, Arif Babul, James Burgoyne, Rebecca E.A. Canning, Roger P. Deane, Carlos De Breuck, Anthony H. Gonzalez, Christopher C. Hayward, Seon Woo Kim, Matt Malkan, Dan P. Marrone, Vincent McIntyre, Eric Murphy, Emily Pass, Ryan W. Perry, Kedar A. Phadke, Douglas RennehanCassie Reuter, Kaja M. Rotermund, Douglas Scott, Nick Seymour, Manuel Solimano, Justin Spilker, Anthony A. Stark, Nikolaus Sulzenauer, Nick Tothill, Joaquin D. Vieira, David Vizgan, George Wang, Axel Weiss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We have observed the z = 4.3 protocluster SPT2349−56 with the Australia Telescope Compact Array (ATCA) with the aim of detecting radio-loud active galactic nuclei (AGNs) among the ∼30 submillimeter (submm) galaxies (SMGs) identified in the structure. We detect the central complex of submm sources at 2.2 GHz with a luminosity of L 2.2 = (4.42 ± 0.56) × 1025 W Hz−1. MeerKAT and the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder also detect the source at 816 MHz and 888 MHz, respectively, constraining the radio spectral index to α = −1.45 ± 0.16, implying L 1.4,rest = (2.2 ± 0.2) × 1026 W Hz−1. The radio observations do not have sufficient spatial resolution to uniquely identify one of the three Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) galaxies as the AGN, however the ALMA source properties themselves suggest a likely host. This radio luminosity is ∼100× higher than expected from star formation, assuming the usual far-infrared-radio correlation, indicating an AGN driven by a forming brightest cluster galaxy. None of the SMGs in SPT2349−56 show signs of AGNs in any other diagnostics available to us, highlighting the radio continuum as a powerful probe of obscured AGNs. We compare these results to field samples of radio sources and SMGs, along with the 22 gravitationally lensed SPT-SMGs also observed in the ATCA program, as well as powerful radio galaxies at high redshifts. The (3.3 ± 0.7) × 1038 W of power from the radio-loud AGN sustained over 100 Myr is comparable to the binding energy of the gas mass of the central halo, and similar to the instantaneous energy injection from supernova feedback from the SMGs in the core region. The SPT2349−56 radio-loud AGNs may be providing strong feedback on a nascent intracluster medium.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number120
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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