We have surveyed the inner part of the Galaxy for OH 1612 MHz maser emission from OH/IR stars. The full survey is expected to give around 2000 detections. Here we report initial results for the Bulge region between |l| < 10° and |b| < 3°.
The observations discussed here were taken with the Australia Telescope Compact Array in Oct-Nov 1993. For each field we used a total integration time of 8 min. spread over an hour-angle range of 12 hours in intervals of an hour. Interference in the 1612 MHz band is a major concern in this program - it is ubiquitous for the shorter baselines. Another concern is the beam-pattern resulting from taking short cuts spread over 12 hours, with a one dimensional array. This causes sidelobe patterns which can easily lead to spurious detections. In addition to these problems, the size of the data set calls for special reduction techniques. We have developed a non-interactive method that is not I/O intensive and is well suited for use on supercomputers. To identify the OH/IR stars, all fields are ‘skimmed’ at successively weaker levels, subtracting point sources at the positions of the highest peaks in the fields, until we reach the (known) 3 σ level. Our method reduces the data reduction time by a factor of eight whilst giving comparable results to conventional cleaning methods. The disk space required is reduced by a factor of 100.