Proper motion in lensed radio jets at redshift 3: A possible dual super-massive black hole system in the early Universe

Spingola, C., McKean, J. P., Massari, D. & Koopmans, L. V. E., Oct-2019, In : Astronomy & astrophysics. 630, 11 p., 108.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Copy link to clipboard


  • Proper motion in lensed radio jets at redshift 3

    Final publisher's version, 1.62 MB, PDF document

    Embargo ends: 30/10/2020

    Request copy


In this paper, we exploit the gravitational lensing effect to detect proper motion in the highly magnified gravitationally lensed source MG B2016+112. We find positional shifts up to 6 mas in the lensed images by comparing two Very Long Baseline Interferometric (VLBI) radio observations at 1.7 GHz that are separated by 14.359 years, and provide an astrometric accuracy of the order of tens of mu as. From lens modelling, we exclude a shift in the lensing galaxy as the cause of the positional change of the lensed images, and we assign it to the background source. The source consists of four sub-components separated by similar to 175 pc, with proper motion of the order of tens pas yr(-1) for the two components at highest magnification (mu similar to 350) and of the order of a few mas yr(-1) for the two components at lower magnification (mu similar to 2). We propose single active galactic nuclei (AGN) and dual AGN scenarios to explain the source plane. Although, the latter interpretation is supported by the archival multi-wavelength properties of the object. In this case, MG B2016+112 would represent the highest redshift dual radio-loud AGN system discovered thus far, and would support the merger interpretation for such systems. Also, given the low probability (similar to 10(-5)) of detecting a dual AGN system that is also gravitationally lensed, if confirmed, this would suggest that such dual AGN systems must be more abundant in the early Universe than currently thought.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108
Number of pages11
JournalAstronomy & astrophysics
Early online date30-Sep-2019
Publication statusPublished - Oct-2019


  • galaxies: active, galaxies: jets, gravitational lensing: strong, instrumentation: high angular resolution, instrumentation: interferometers, radio continuum: galaxies, DARK-MATTER SUBSTRUCTURE, GRAVITATIONAL LENSES, MERLIN OBSERVATIONS, MG 2016+112, GALAXY, IMAGE, NUCLEUS, CLUSTER, AGN, KINEMATICS

ID: 102693660