Deep Wideband Single Pointings and Mosaics in Radio Interferometry: How Accurately Do We Reconstruct Intensities and Spectral Indices of Faint Sources?
Many deep wideband wide-field radio interferometric surveys are being designed to accurately measure intensities, spectral indices, and polarization properties of faint source populations. In this paper, we compare various wideband imaging methods to evaluate the accuracy to which intensities and spectral indices of sources close to the confusion limit can be reconstructed. We simulated a wideband single-pointing (C-array, L-Band (1-2 GHz)) and 46-pointing mosaic (D-array, C-Band (4-8 GHz)) JVLA observation using a realistic brightness distribution ranging from 1 μJy to 100 mJy and time-, frequency-, polarization-, and direction-dependent instrumental effects. The main results from these comparisons are (a) errors in the reconstructed intensities and spectral indices are larger for weaker sources even in the absence of simulated noise, (b) errors are systematically lower for joint reconstruction methods (such as Multi-Term Multi-Frequency-Synthesis (MT-MFS)) along with A-Projection for accurate primary beam correction, and (c) use of MT-MFS for image reconstruction eliminates Clean-bias (which is present otherwise). Auxiliary tests include solutions for deficiencies of data partitioning methods (e.g., the use of masks to remove clean bias and hybrid methods to remove sidelobes from sources left un-deconvolved), the effect of sources not at pixel centers, and the consequences of various other numerical approximations within software implementations. This paper also demonstrates the level of detail at which such simulations must be done in order to reflect reality, enable one to systematically identify specific reasons for every trend that is observed, and to estimate scientifically defensible imaging performance metrics and the associated computational complexity of the algorithms/analysis procedures.The National Radio Astronomy Observatory is a facility of the National Science Foundation operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc.
The Astronomical Journal
- Pub Date:
- November 2016
- methods: data analysis;
- techniques: image processing;
- techniques: interferometric;
- Astrophysics - Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics
- 12 pages, 12 figures (accepted to AJ)