Field sources near the southern-sky calibrator PKS B1934-638: effect on spectral line observations with SKA-MID and its precursors
Accurate instrumental bandpass corrections are essential for the reliable interpretation of spectral lines from targeted and survey-mode observations with radio interferometers. Bandpass correction is typically performed by comparing measurements of a strong calibrator source to an assumed model, typically an isolated point source. The wide field-of-view and high sensitivity of modern interferometers means that additional sources are often detected in observations of calibrators. This can introduce errors into bandpass corrections and subsequently the target data if not properly accounted for. Focusing on the standard calibrator PKS B1934-638, we perform simulations to asses this effect by constructing a wide-field sky model. The cases of ASKAP (0.7-1.9 GHz), MeerKAT (UHF: 0.58-1.05 GHz; L-band: 0.87-1.67 GHz) and Band 2 (0.95-1.76 GHz) of SKA-MID are examined. The use of a central point source model during bandpass calibration is found to impart amplitude errors into spectra measured by the precursor instruments at the ∼0.2-0.5 per cent level dropping to ∼0.01 per cent in the case of SKA-MID. This manifests itself as ripples in the source spectrum, the behaviour of which is coupled to the distribution of the array baselines, the solution interval, the primary beam size, the hour-angle of the calibration scan, as well as the weights used when imaging the target. Calibration pipelines should routinely employ complete field models for standard calibrators to remove this potentially destructive contaminant from the data, a recommendation we validate by comparing our simulation results to a MeerKAT scan of PKS B1934-638, calibrated with and without our expanded sky model.
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
- Pub Date:
- June 2020
- techniques: interferometric;
- Astrophysics - Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics
- 11 pages, 10 figures, accepted for publication in MNRAS