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Pober J.C.,U. Washington | Ali Z.S.,University of California at Berkeley | Parsons A.R.,University of California at Berkeley | McQuinn M.,University of Washington | And 26 more authors.
Astrophysical Journal | Year: 2015

We present constraints on both the kinetic temperature of the intergalactic medium (IGM) at z = 8.4, and on models for heating the IGM at high-redshift with X-ray emission from the first collapsed objects. These constraints are derived using a semi-analytic method to explore the new measurements of the 21 cm power spectrum from the Donald C. Backer Precision Array for Probing the Epoch of Reionization (PAPER), which were presented in a companion paper, Ali et al. Twenty-one cm power spectra with amplitudes of hundreds of mK2 can be generically produced if the kinetic temperature of the IGM is significantly below the temperature of the cosmic microwave background (CMB); as such, the new results from PAPER place lower limits on the IGM temperature at z = 8.4. Allowing for the unknown ionization state of the IGM, our measurements find the IGM temperature to be above ≈5 K for neutral fractions between 10% and 85%, above ≈7 K for neutral fractions between 15% and 80%, or above ≈10 K for neutral fractions between 30% and 70%. We also calculate the heating of the IGM that would be provided by the observed high redshift galaxy population, and find that for most models, these galaxies are sufficient to bring the IGM temperature above our lower limits. However, there are significant ranges of parameter space that could produce a signal ruled out by the PAPER measurements; models with a steep drop-off in the star formation rate density at high redshifts or with relatively low values for the X-ray to star formation rate efficiency of high redshift galaxies are generally disfavored. The PAPER measurements are consistent with (but do not constrain) a hydrogen spin temperature above the CMB temperature, a situation which we find to be generally predicted if galaxies fainter than the current detection limits of optical/NIR surveys are included in calculations of X-ray heating. © 2015. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved. Source

Neben A.R.,Massachusetts Institute of Technology | Hewitt J.N.,Massachusetts Institute of Technology | Bradley R.F.,University of Virginia | Dillon J.S.,Massachusetts Institute of Technology | And 29 more authors.
Astrophysical Journal | Year: 2016

Accurate antenna beam models are critical for radio observations aiming to isolate the redshifted 21 cm spectral line emission from the Dark Ages and the Epoch of Reionization (EOR) and unlock the scientific potential of 21 cm cosmology. Past work has focused on characterizing mean antenna beam models using either satellite signals or astronomical sources as calibrators, but antenna-to-antenna variation due to imperfect instrumentation has remained unexplored. We characterize this variation for the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) through laboratory measurements and simulations, finding typical deviations of the order of ±10%-20% near the edges of the main lobe and in the sidelobes. We consider the ramifications of these results for image- and power spectrum-based science. In particular, we simulate visibilities measured by a 100 m baseline and find that using an otherwise perfect foreground model, unmodeled beam-forming errors severely limit foreground subtraction accuracy within the region of Fourier space contaminated by foreground emission (the "wedge"). This region likely contains much of the cosmological signal, and accessing it will require measurement of per-antenna beam patterns. However, unmodeled beam-forming errors do not contaminate the Fourier space region expected to be free of foreground contamination (the "EOR window"), showing that foreground avoidance remains a viable strategy. © 2016. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.. Source

Loi S.T.,University of Sydney | Murphy T.,University of Sydney | Bell M.E.,CSIRO | Kaplan D.L.,University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee | And 44 more authors.
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society | Year: 2015

Refraction and diffraction of incoming radio waves by the ionosphere induce time variability in the angular positions, peak amplitudes and shapes of radio sources, potentially complicating the automated cross-matching and identification of transient and variable radio sources. In this work, we empirically assess the effects of the ionosphere on data taken by the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) radio telescope. We directly examine 51 h of data observed over 10 nights under quiet geomagnetic conditions (global storm index Kp < 2), analysing the behaviour of short-time-scale angular position and peak flux density variations of around ten thousand unresolved sources. We find that while much of the variation in angular position can be attributed to ionospheric refraction, the characteristic displacements (10-20 arcsec) at 154 MHz are small enough that search radii of 1-2 arcmin should be sufficient for crossmatching under typical conditions. By examining bulk trends in amplitude variability, we place upper limits on the modulation index associated with ionospheric scintillation of 1-3 per cent for the various nights. For sources fainter than ~1 Jy, this variation is below the image noise at typical MWA sensitivities. Our results demonstrate that the ionosphere is not a significant impediment to the goals of time-domain science with the MWA at 154 MHz. © 2015 The Authors. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society. Source

Tingay S.J.,Curtin University Australia | Macquart J.-P.,Curtin University Australia | Collier J.D.,University of Western Sydney | Collier J.D.,CSIRO | And 44 more authors.
Astronomical Journal | Year: 2015

Using the new wideband capabilities of the ATCA, we obtain spectra for PKS 1718-649, a well-known gigahertzpeaked spectrum radio source. The observations, between approximately 1 and 10 GHz over 3 epochs spanning approximately 21 months, reveal variability both above the spectral peak at ∼3 GHz and below the peak. The combination of the low- and high-frequency variability cannot be easily explained using a single absorption mechanism, such as free-free absorption or synchrotron self-absorption. We find that the PKS 1718-649 spectrum and its variability are best explained by variations in the free-free optical depth on our line of sight to the radio source at low frequencies (below the spectral peak) and the adiabatic expansion of the radio source itself at high frequencies (above the spectral peak). The optical depth variations are found to be plausible when X-ray continuum absorption variability seen in samples of active galactic nuclei is considered. We find that the cause of the peaked spectrum in PKS 1718-649 is most likely due to free-free absorption. In agreement with previous studies, we find that the spectrum at each epoch of observation is best fit by a free-free absorption model characterized by a power-law distribution of free-free absorbing clouds. This agreement is extended to frequencies below the 1 GHz lower limit of the ATCA by considering new observations with Parkes at 725 MHz and 199 MHz observations with the newly operational Murchison Widefield Array. These lower frequency observations argue against families of absorption models (both free-free and synchrotron self-absorption) that are based on simple homogenous structures. © 2015. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved. Source

Offringa A.R.,Australian National University | McKinley B.,Australian National University | Hurley-Walker N.,Curtin University Australia | Briggs F.H.,Australian National University | And 61 more authors.
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society | Year: 2014

Astronomical wide-field imaging of interferometric radio data is computationally expensive, especially for the large data volumes created by modern non-coplanar many-element arrays. We present a new wide-field interferometric imager that uses the w-stacking algorithm and can make use of the w-snapshot algorithm. The performance dependences of CASA's w-projection and our new imager are analysed and analytical functions are derived that describe the required computing cost for both imagers. On data from the Murchison Widefield Array, we find our new method to be an order of magnitude faster than w-projection, as well as being capable of full-sky imaging at full resolution and with correct polarization correction. We predict the computing costs for several other arrays and estimate that our imager is a factor of 2-12 faster, depending on the array configuration. We estimate the computing cost for imaging the lowfrequency Square Kilometre Array observations to be 60 PetaFLOPS with current techniques. We find that combining w-stacking with the w-snapshot algorithm does not significantly improve computing requirements over pure w-stacking. The source code of our new imager is publicly released. © 2014 The Authors Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society. Source

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