Context. The LOw Frequency ARray (LOFAR) is the only radio telescope that is presently capable of high-sensitivity, high-resolution (i.e. < 1 mJy beam−1 and < 15″) observations at ultra-low frequencies (< 100 MHz). To utilise these capabilities, the LOFAR Surveys Key Science Project is undertaking a large survey to cover the entire northern sky with Low Band Antenna (LBA) observations.
Aims: The LOFAR LBA Sky Survey (LoLSS) aims to cover the entire northern sky with 3170 pointings in the frequency range between 42 − 66 MHz, at a resolution of 15″ and at a sensitivity of 1 mJy beam−1 (1σ). In this work, we outline the survey strategy, the observational status, and the calibration techniques. We also briefly describe several of our scientific motivations and present the preliminary public data release.
Methods: The preliminary images were produced using a fully automated pipeline aimed at correcting all direction-independent effects in the data. Whilst the direction-dependent effects, such as those from the ionosphere, have not yet been corrected, the images presented in this work are still ten times more sensitive than previous available surveys at these low frequencies.
Results: The preliminary data release covers 740 deg2 around the HETDEX spring field region at an angular resolution of 47″ with a median noise level of 5 mJy beam−1. The images and the catalogue of 25 247 sources have been publicly released. We demonstrate that the system is capable of reaching a root mean square (rms) noise of 1 mJy beam−1 and an angular resolution of 15″ once direction-dependent effects are accounted for.
Conclusions: LoLSS will provide the ultra-low-frequency information for hundreds of thousands of radio sources, providing critical spectral information and producing a unique data set that can be used for a wide range of science topics, such as the search for high redshift galaxies and quasars, the study of the magnetosphere of exoplanets, and the detection of the oldest populations of cosmic-rays in galaxies, clusters of galaxies, as well as those produced by active galactic nuclei.
Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Pub Date:
- April 2021
- radio continuum: general;
- techniques: image processing;
- Astrophysics - Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics
- 19 pages, 14 figures, Accepted A&