The radio-loud active nucleus in the "dark lens" galaxy J1218+2953

S. Frey, Z. Paragi, R. M. Campbell, A. Moór

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Context. There is a possibility that the optically unidentified radio source J1218+2953 may act as a gravitational lens, producing an optical arc ~4" away from the radio position. Until now, the nature of the lensing object has been uncertain since it is not detected in any waveband other than the radio. The estimated high mass-to-light ratio could even allow the total mass of this galaxy to be primarily in the form of dark matter. In this case, J1218+2953 could be the first known example of a "dark lens". Aims. We investigate the nature of J1218+2953 by means of high-resolution radio imaging observations to determine whether there is a radio-loud active galactic nucleus (AGN) in the position of the lensing object. Methods. We report on Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) observations with the European VLBI Network (EVN) at 1.6 and 5 GHz. Results. Our images, having angular resolutions of ~1 to ~10 milli-arcseconds (mas), reveal a rich and complex radio structure extending to almost 1". Based on its radio spectrum and structure, J1218+2953 can be classified as a compact steep-spectrum (CSS) source, and as a medium-size symmetric object (MSO). The object harbours an AGN. It is also found as an X-ray source in the XMM-Newton EPIC (European Photon Imaging Cameras) instrument serendipitous source catalogue. Conclusions. Rather than being a dark lens, J1218+2953 is most likely a massive, heavily obscured galaxy in which the nuclear activity is currently in an early evolutionary stage.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA18
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Apr 15 2010


  • Galaxies: active
  • Gravitational lensing: strong
  • Radio continuum: galaxies
  • Techniques: interferometric

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'The radio-loud active nucleus in the "dark lens" galaxy J1218+2953'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this