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Precise instrumental calibration is of crucial importance to 21-cm cosmology experiments. The Murchison Widefield Array’s (MWA) Phase II compact configuration offers us opportunities for both redundant calibration and sky-based calibration algorithms; using the two in tandem is a potential approach to mitigate calibration errors caused by inaccurate sky models. The MWA Epoch of Reionization (EoR) experiment targets three patches of the sky (dubbed EoR0, EoR1, and EoR2) with deep observations. Previous work in Li et al. (2018) and (2019) studied the effect of tandem calibration on the EoR0 field and found that it yielded no significant improvement in the power spectrum (PS) over sky-based calibration alone. In this work, we apply similar techniques to the EoR1 field and find a distinct result: the improvements in the PS from tandem calibration are significant. To understand this result, we analyse both the calibration solutions themselves and the effects on the PS over three nights of EoR1 observations. We conclude that the presence of the bright radio galaxy Fornax A in EoR1 degrades the performance of sky-based calibration, which in turn enables redundant calibration to have a larger impact. These results suggest that redundant calibration can indeed mitigate some level of model incompleteness error.
The Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) is an open access telescope dedicated to studying the low-frequency (80–300 MHz) southern sky. Since beginning operations in mid-2013, the MWA has opened a new observational window in the southern hemisphere enabling many science areas. The driving science objectives of the original design were to observe 21 cm radiation from the Epoch of Reionisation (EoR), explore the radio time domain, perform Galactic and extragalactic surveys, and monitor solar, heliospheric, and ionospheric phenomena. All together
programs recorded 20 000 h producing 146 papers to date. In 2016, the telescope underwent a major upgrade resulting in alternating compact and extended configurations. Other upgrades, including digital back-ends and a rapid-response triggering system, have been developed since the original array was commissioned. In this paper, we review the major results from the prior operation of the MWA and then discuss the new science paths enabled by the improved capabilities. We group these science opportunities by the four original science themes but also include ideas for directions outside these categories.
Epoch of Reionisation (EoR) data analysis requires unprecedented levels of accuracy in radio interferometer pipelines. We have developed an imaging power spectrum analysis to meet these requirements and generate robust 21 cm EoR measurements. In this work, we build a signal path framework to mathematically describe each step in the analysis, from data reduction in the Fast Holographic Deconvolution (FHD) package to power spectrum generation in the εppsilon package. In particular, we focus on the distinguishing characteristics of FHD/εppsilon: highly accurate spectral calibration, extensive data verification products, and end-to-end error propagation. We present our key data analysis products in detail to facilitate understanding of the prominent systematics in image-based power spectrum analyses. As a verification to our analysis, we also highlight a full-pipeline analysis simulation to demonstrate signal preservation and lack of signal loss. This careful treatment ensures that the FHD/εppsilon power spectrum pipeline can reduce radio interferometric data to produce credible 21 cm EoR measurements.
We apply two methods to estimate the 21-cm bispectrum from data taken within the Epoch of Reionisation (EoR) project of the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA). Using data acquired with the Phase II compact array allows a direct bispectrum estimate to be undertaken on the multiple redundantly spaced triangles of antenna tiles, as well as an estimate based on data gridded to the uv-plane. The direct and gridded bispectrum estimators are applied to 21 h of high-band (167–197 MHz; z = 6.2–7.5) data from the 2016 and 2017 observing seasons. Analytic predictions for the bispectrum bias and variance for point-source foregrounds are derived. We compare the output of these approaches, the foreground contribution to the signal, and future prospects for measuring the bispectra with redundant and non-redundant arrays. We find that some triangle configurations yield bispectrum estimates that are consistent with the expected noise level after 10 h, while equilateral configurations are strongly foreground-dominated. Careful choice of triangle configurations may be made to reduce foreground bias that hinders power spectrum estimators, and the 21-cm bispectrum may be accessible in less time than the 21-cm power spectrum for some wave modes, with detections in hundreds of hours.
The Murchison Widefield Array is a new low-frequency interferometric radio telescope built in Western Australia at one of the locations of the future Square Kilometre Array. We describe the automated radio-frequency interference detection strategy implemented for the Murchison Widefield Array, which is based on the aoflagger platform, and present 72–231 MHz radio-frequency interference statistics from 10 observing nights. Radio-frequency interference detection removes 1.1% of the data. Radio-frequency interference from digital TV is observed 3% of the time due to occasional ionospheric or atmospheric propagation. After radio-frequency interference detection and excision, almost all data can be calibrated and imaged without further radio-frequency interference mitigation efforts, including observations within the FM and digital TV bands. The results are compared to a previously published Low-Frequency Array radio-frequency interference survey. The remote location of the Murchison Widefield Array results in a substantially cleaner radio-frequency interference environment compared to Low-Frequency Array’s radio environment, but adequate detection of radio-frequency interference is still required before data can be analysed. We include specific recommendations designed to make the Square Kilometre Array more robust to radio-frequency interference, including: the availability of sufficient computing power for radio-frequency interference detection; accounting for radio-frequency interference in the receiver design; a smooth band-pass response; and the capability of radio-frequency interference detection at high time and frequency resolution (second and kHz-scale respectively).
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