AAS 198th Meeting, June 2001
Session 34. Interacting Galaxies: A Multi-wavelength Look at their Role in Galactic and Cosmic Evolution
Topical Session Oral, Tuesday, June 5, 2001, 8:30am-12:30pm, 2:00-5:30pm, C106

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[34.05] OH Megamasers: Luminous Radio Beacons of Merging Galaxies

J. Darling, R. Giovanelli (Cornell University)

In the most luminous IR sources, the merging of massive galaxies can induce nuclear OH masing millions to billions of times stronger than typical Galactic masers. These OH megamasers are observable at cosmological distances and produce the most luminous radio emission lines beyond z=0.1. The Arecibo OH megamaser survey has doubled the sample of known OH megamasers and quantifies the relationship between the OH megamaser population and their hosts, the luminous IR galaxies. The OH luminosity function derived from the survey is employed to make concrete predictions of the detectability of OH megamasers at high redshift. Detection rates from blank fields or targeted surveys can be translated into number densities and perhaps IR luminosity functions of ultraluminous IR galaxies at high redshifts. These deep surveys will discriminate between galaxy evolution scenarios with differing merger rates as a function of redshift. OH megamasers may also provide reliable redshift indicators for optically challenged sub-mm galaxies and extremely red objects.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: darling@astro.cornell.edu

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