, Volume 18, Issue 1-2, pp 1-65
Date: 09 Oct 2009

Radio and millimeter continuum surveys and their astrophysical implications

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We review the statistical properties of the main populations of radio sources, as emerging from radio and millimeter sky surveys. Recent determinations of local luminosity functions are presented and compared with earlier estimates still in widespread use. A number of unresolved issues are discussed. These include: the (possibly luminosity-dependent) decline of source space densities at high redshifts; the possible dichotomies between evolutionary properties of low- versus high-luminosity and of flat- versus steep-spectrum AGN-powered radio sources; and the nature of sources accounting for the upturn of source counts at sub-milli-Jansky (mJy) levels. It is shown that straightforward extrapolations of evolutionary models, accounting for both the far-IR counts and redshift distributions of star-forming galaxies, match the radio source counts at flux-density levels of tens of μJy remarkably well. We consider the statistical properties of rare but physically very interesting classes of sources, such as GHz Peak Spectrum and ADAF/ADIOS sources, and radio afterglows of γ-ray bursts. We also discuss the exploitation of large-area radio surveys to investigate large-scale structure through studies of clustering and the Integrated Sachs–Wolfe effect. Finally, we briefly describe the potential of the new and forthcoming generations of radio telescopes. A compendium of source counts at different frequencies is given in Supplementary Material.