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  • Vedantham, H. K., et al. (författare)
  • Lunar occultation of the diffuse radio sky : LOFAR measurements between 35 and 80 MHz
  • 2015
  • Ingår i: Monthly notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. - : Oxford University Press (OUP). - 0035-8711 .- 1365-2966. ; 450, s. 2291-2305
  • Tidskriftsartikel (refereegranskat)abstract
    • We present radio observations of the Moon between 35 and 80 MHz to demonstrate a novel technique of interferometrically measuring large-scale diffuse emission extending far beyond the primary beam (global signal) for the first time. In particular, we show that (i) the Moon appears as a negative-flux source at frequencies 35 < ν < 80 MHz since it is ‘colder’ than the diffuse Galactic background it occults, (ii) using the (negative) flux of the lunar disc, we can reconstruct the spectrum of the diffuse Galactic emission with the lunar thermal emission as a reference, and (iii) that reflected RFI (radio-frequency interference) is concentrated at the centre of the lunar disc due to specular nature of reflection, and can be independently measured. Our RFI measurements show that (i) Moon-based Cosmic Dawn experiments must design for an Earth-isolation of better than 80 dB to achieve an RFI temperature <1 mK, (ii) Moon-reflected RFI contributes to a dipole temperature less than 20 mK for Earth-based Cosmic Dawn experiments, (iii) man-made satellite-reflected RFI temperature exceeds 20 mK if the aggregate scattering cross-section of visible satellites exceeds 175 m2 at 800 km height, or 15 m2 at 400 km height. Currently, our diffuse background spectrum is limited by sidelobe confusion on short baselines (10–15 per cent level). Further refinement of our technique may yield constraints on the redshifted global 21 cm signal from Cosmic Dawn (40 > z > 12) and the Epoch of Reionization (12 > z > 5).
  • Jelic, V., et al. (författare)
  • Initial LOFAR observations of epoch of reionization windows II. Diffuse polarized emission in the ELAIS-N1 field
  • 2014
  • Ingår i: Astronomy and Astrophysics. - : EDP Sciences. - 0004-6361 .- 1432-0746. ; 568, s. A101-
  • Tidskriftsartikel (refereegranskat)abstract
    • Aims. This study aims to characterise the polarized foreground emission in the ELAIS-N1 field and to address its possible implications or extracting of the cosmological 21 cm signal from the LOw-Frequency ARray - Epoch of Reionization (LOFAR-EoR) data Methods. We used the high band antennas of LOFAR to image this region and RM-synthesis to unravel structures of polarized emission at high Galactic latitudes. Results. The brightness temperature of the detected Galactic emission is on average similar to 4 K in polarized intensity and covers the range from -10 to +13 rad m(-2) in Faraday depth, The total polarized intensity and polarization angle show a wide range of morphological features. We have also used the Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope (WSRT) at 350 MHz to image the same region. The LOFAR and WSRT images show a similar complex morphology at comparable brightness levels, but their spatial correlation is very low. The fractional polarization at 150 MHz, expressed as a percentage of the total intensity, amounts to approximate to 1.5%. There is no indication of diffuse emission in total intensity in the interferometric data. in line with results at higher frequencies Conclusions. The wide frequency range. high angular resolution, and high sensitivity make LOFAR an exquisite instrument for studying Galactic polarized emission at a resolution of similar to 1-2 rad m(-2) in Faraday depth. The different polarized patterns observed at 150 MHz and 350 MHz are consistent with different source distributions along the line of sight wring in a variety of Faraday thin regions of emission. The presence of polarized foregrounds is a serious complication for epoch of reionization experiments. To avoid the leakage of polarized emission into total intensity, which can depend on frequency, we need to calibrate the instrumental polarization across the field of view to a small fraction of 1%.
  • van Haarlem, M. P., et al. (författare)
  • LOFAR : The LOw-Frequency ARray
  • 2013
  • Ingår i: Astronomy and Astrophysics. - : EDP Sciences. - 0004-6361 .- 1432-0746. ; 556, s. 1-53
  • Tidskriftsartikel (refereegranskat)abstract
    • LOFAR, the LOw-Frequency ARray, is a new-generation radio interferometer constructed in the north of the Netherlands and across europe. Utilizing a novel phased-array design, LOFAR covers the largely unexplored low-frequency range from 10–240 MHz and provides a number of unique observing capabilities. Spreading out from a core located near the village of Exloo in the northeast of the Netherlands, a total of 40 LOFAR stations are nearing completion. A further five stations have been deployed throughout Germany, and one station has been built in each of France, Sweden, and the UK. Digital beam-forming techniques make the LOFAR system agile and allow for rapid repointing of the telescope as well as the potential for multiple simultaneous observations. With its dense core array and long interferometric baselines, LOFAR achieves unparalleled sensitivity and angular resolution in the low-frequency radio regime. The LOFAR facilities are jointly operated by the International LOFAR Telescope (ILT) foundation, as an observatory open to the global astronomical community. LOFAR is one of the first radio observatories to feature automated processing pipelines to deliver fully calibrated science products to its user community. LOFAR’s new capabilities, techniques and modus operandi make it an important pathfinder for the Square Kilometre Array (SKA). We give an overview of the LOFAR instrument, its major hardware and software components, and the core science objectives that have driven its design. In addition, we present a selection of new results from the commissioning phase of this new radio observatory.
  • Heald, G. H., et al. (författare)
  • The LOFAR Multifrequency Snapshot Sky Survey (MSSS) : I. Survey description and first results
  • 2015
  • Ingår i: Astronomy and Astrophysics. - : EDP Sciences. - 0004-6361 .- 1432-0746. ; 582, s. 1-22
  • Tidskriftsartikel (refereegranskat)abstract
    • We present the Multifrequency Snapshot Sky Survey (MSSS), the first northern-sky Low Frequency Array (LOFAR) imaging survey. In this introductory paper, we first describe in detail the motivation and design of the survey. Compared to previous radio surveys, MSSS is exceptional due to its intrinsic multifrequency nature providing information about the spectral properties of the detected sources over more than two octaves (from 30 to 160 MHz). The broadband frequency coverage, together with the fast survey speed generated by LOFAR’s multibeaming capabilities, make MSSS the first survey of the sort anticipated to be carried out with the forthcoming Square Kilometre Array (SKA). Two of the sixteen frequency bands included in the survey were chosen to exactly overlap the frequency coverage of large-area Very Large Array (VLA) and Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT) surveys at 74 MHz and 151 MHz respectively. The survey performance is illustrated within the MSSS Verification Field (MVF), a region of 100 square degrees centered at (α,δ)J2000 = (15h,69°). The MSSS results from the MVF are compared with previous radio survey catalogs. We assess the flux and astrometric uncertainties in the catalog, as well as the completeness and reliability considering our source finding strategy. We determine the 90% completeness levels within the MVF to be 100 mJy at 135 MHz with 108″ resolution, and 550 mJy at 50 MHz with 166″ resolution. Images and catalogs for the full survey, expected to contain 150 000–200 000 sources, will be released to a public web server. We outline the plans for the ongoing production of the final survey products, and the ultimate public release of images and source catalogs.
  • Shimwell, T. W., et al. (författare)
  • The LOFAR Two-metre Sky Survey: II. First data release
  • 2019
  • Ingår i: Astronomy and Astrophysics. - : EDP Sciences. - 0004-6361 .- 1432-0746. ; 622
  • Forskningsöversikt (refereegranskat)abstract
    • The LOFAR Two-metre Sky Survey (LoTSS) is an ongoing sensitive, high-resolution 120-168 MHz survey of the entire northern sky for which observations are now 20% complete. We present our first full-quality public data release. For this data release 424 square degrees, or 2% of the eventual coverage, in the region of the HETDEX Spring Field (right ascension 10h45m00s to 15h30m00s and declination 45°00′00″ to 57°00′00″) were mapped using a fully automated direction-dependent calibration and imaging pipeline that we developed. A total of 325 694 sources are detected with a signal of at least five times the noise, and the source density is a factor of ∼10 higher than the most sensitive existing very wide-area radio-continuum surveys. The median sensitivity is S144 MHz = 71 μJy beam -1 and the point-source completeness is 90% at an integrated flux density of 0.45 mJy. The resolution of the images is 6″ and the positional accuracy is within 0.2″. This data release consists of a catalogue containing location, flux, and shape estimates together with 58 mosaic images that cover the catalogued area. In this paper we provide an overview of the data release with a focus on the processing of the LOFAR data and the characteristics of the resulting images. In two accompanying papers we provide the radio source associations and deblending and, where possible, the optical identifications of the radio sources together with the photometric redshifts and properties of the host galaxies. These data release papers are published together with a further ∼20 articles that highlight the scientific potential of LoTSS.
  • Yatawatta, S., et al. (författare)
  • Initial deep LOFAR observations of epoch of reionization windows I. The north celestial pole
  • 2013
  • Ingår i: Astronomy and Astrophysics. - : EDP Sciences. - 0004-6361 .- 1432-0746. ; 550, s. A136-
  • Tidskriftsartikel (refereegranskat)abstract
    • Aims. The aim of the LOFAR epoch of reionization (EoR) project is to detect the spectral fluctuations of the redshifted HI 21 cm signal. This signal is weaker by several orders of magnitude than the astrophysical foreground signals and hence, in order to achieve this, very long integrations, accurate calibration for stations and ionosphere and reliable foreground removal are essential. Methods. One of the prospective observing windows for the LOFAR EoR project will be centered at the north celestial pole (NCP). We present results from observations of the NCP window using the LOFAR highband antenna (HBA) array in the frequency range 115 MHz to 163 MHz. The data were obtained in April 2011 during the commissioning phase of LOFAR. We used baselines up to about 30 km. The data was processed using a dedicated processing pipeline which is an enhanced version of the standard LOFAR processing pipeline. Results. With about 3 nights, of 6 h each, effective integration we have achieved a noise level of about 100 mu Jy/PSF in the NCP window. Close to the NCP, the noise level increases to about 180 mu Jy/PSF, mainly due to additional contamination from unsubtracted nearby sources. We estimate that in our best night, we have reached a noise level only a factor of 1.4 above the thermal limit set by the noise from our Galaxy and the receivers. Our continuum images are several times deeper than have been achieved previously using the WSRT and GMRT arrays. We derive an analytical explanation for the excess noise that we believe to be mainly due to sources at large angular separation from the NCP. We present some details of the data processing challenges and how we solved them. Conclusions. Although many LOFAR stations were, at the time of the observations, in a still poorly calibrated state we have seen no artefacts in our images which would prevent us from producing deeper images in much longer integrations on the NCP window which are about to commence. The limitations present in our current results are mainly due to sidelobe noise from the large number of distant sources, as well as errors related to station beam variations and rapid ionospheric phase fluctuations acting on bright sources. We are confident that we can improve our results with refined processing.
  • Buitink, S., et al. (författare)
  • A large light-mass component of cosmic rays at 1017–1017.5 electronvolts from radio observations
  • 2016
  • Ingår i: Nature. - : Springer Science and Business Media LLC. - 0028-0836 .- 1476-4687. ; 531:7592, s. 70-73
  • Tidskriftsartikel (refereegranskat)abstract
    • Cosmic rays are the highest-energy particles found in nature. Measurements of the mass composition of cosmic rays with energies of 1017–1018 electronvolts are essential to understanding whether they have galactic or extragalactic sources. It has also been proposed that the astrophysical neutrino signal1 comes from accelerators capable of producing cosmic rays of these energies2. Cosmic rays initiate air showers—cascades of secondary particles in the atmosphere—and their masses can be inferred from measurements of the atmospheric depth of the shower maximum3 (Xmax; the depth of the air shower when it contains the most particles) or of the composition of shower particles reaching the ground4. Current measurements5 have either high uncertainty, or a low duty cycle and a high energy threshold. Radio detection of cosmic rays6, 7, 8 is a rapidly developing technique9 for determining Xmax (refs 10, 11) with a duty cycle of, in principle, nearly 100 per cent. The radiation is generated by the separation of relativistic electrons and positrons in the geomagnetic field and a negative charge excess in the shower front6, 12. Here we report radio measurements of Xmax with a mean uncertainty of 16 grams per square centimetre for air showers initiated by cosmic rays with energies of 1017–1017.5 electronvolts. This high resolution in Xmax enables us to determine the mass spectrum of the cosmic rays: we find a mixed composition, with a light-mass fraction (protons and helium nuclei) of about 80 per cent. Unless, contrary to current expectations, the extragalactic component of cosmic rays contributes substantially to the total flux below 1017.5 electronvolts, our measurements indicate the existence of an additional galactic component, to account for the light composition that we measured in the 1017–1017.5 electronvolt range.
  • Schellart, P., et al. (författare)
  • Detecting cosmic rays with the LOFAR radio telescope
  • 2013
  • Ingår i: Astronomy and Astrophysics. - : EDP Sciences. - 0004-6361 .- 1432-0746. ; 560, s. 1-14
  • Tidskriftsartikel (refereegranskat)abstract
    • The low frequency array (LOFAR), is the first radio telescope designed with the capability to measure radio emission from cosmic-ray induced air showers in parallel with interferometric observations. In the first ~2 years of observing, 405 cosmic-ray events in the energy range of 1016−1018 eV have been detected in the band from 30−80 MHz. Each of these air showers is registered with up to ~1000 independent antennas resulting in measurements of the radio emission with unprecedented detail. This article describes the dataset, as well as the analysis pipeline, and serves as a reference for future papers based on these data. All steps necessary to achieve a full reconstruction of the electric field at every antenna position are explained, including removal of radio frequency interference, correcting for the antenna response and identification of the pulsed signal.
  • Stewart, A. J., et al. (författare)
  • LOFAR MSSS : detection of a low-frequency radio transient in 400 h of monitoring of the North Celestial Pole
  • 2016
  • Ingår i: Monthly notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. - : Oxford University Press (OUP). - 0035-8711 .- 1365-2966. ; 456:3, s. 2321-2342
  • Tidskriftsartikel (refereegranskat)abstract
    • We present the results of a four-month campaign searching for low-frequency radio transients near the North Celestial Pole with the Low-Frequency Array (LOFAR), as part of the Multifrequency Snapshot Sky Survey (MSSS). The data were recorded between 2011 December and 2012 April and comprised 2149 11-min snapshots, each covering 175 deg2. We have found one convincing candidate astrophysical transient, with a duration of a few minutes and a flux density at 60 MHz of 15–25 Jy. The transient does not repeat and has no obvious optical or high-energy counterpart, as a result of which its nature is unclear. The detection of this event implies a transient rate at 60 MHz of 3.9−3.7+14.7×10−4" style="position: relative;" tabindex="0" id="MathJax-Element-1-Frame" class="MathJax">3.9+14.7−3.7×10−4 d−1 deg−2, and a transient surface density of 1.5 × 10−5 deg−2, at a 7.9-Jy limiting flux density and ∼10-min time-scale. The campaign data were also searched for transients at a range of other time-scales, from 0.5 to 297 min, which allowed us to place a range of limits on transient rates at 60 MHz as a function of observation duration.
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