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1 Fundamentals of Radio Interferometry Rick Perley, NRAO/Socorro Fourteenth NRAO Synthesis Imaging Summer School Socorro, NM

2 Topics Why Interferometry? The Single Dish as an interferometer The Basic Interferometer Response to a Point Source Response to an Extended Source The Complex Correlator The Visibility and its relation to the Intensity Picturing the Visibility

3 Why Interferometry? Because of Diffraction: For an aperture of diameter D, and at wavelength l, the image resolution is In practical units: To obtain 1 arcsecond resolution at a wavelength of 21 cm, we require an aperture of ~42 km! The (currently) largest single, fully-steerable apertures are the 100 meter antennas near Bonn, and at Green Bank. So we must develop a method of synthesizing an equivalent aperture. The methodology of synthesizing a continuous aperture through summations of separated pairs of antennas is called aperture synthesis. 14th Synthesis Imaging School 3

4 The Single Dish as in Interferometer A parabolic reflector has a power response (vs angle) roughly as shown below. The formation of this response follows the same laws of physics as an interferometer. A basic understanding of the origin of the focal response will aid in understanding how an interferometer works. Illustrated here is the approximate power response of a 25-meter antenna, at n = 1 GHz.

5 The Parabolic Reflector The parabola has the remarkable property of directing all same rays for from all rays. in incoming wave front to a single point (the focus), all with the same distance. receiver. Hence, all rays arrive at the focus with the same phase. Key Point: Distance from incoming phase front to focal point is the The E-fields will thus all be in phase at the focus the place for the

6 Beam Pattern Origin (1-Dimensional Example) An antenna s response is a result of coherent vector summation of the electric field at the focus. First null will occur at the angle where one extra wavelength of path is added across the full width of the aperture: q ~ l/d (Why?) On-axis incidence Off-axis incidence

7 Specifics: First Null, and First Sidelobe When the phase differential across the aperture is 1, 2, 3, wavelengths, we get a null in the total received power. The nulls appear at (approximately): q = l/d, 2l/D, 3l/D, radians. When the phase differential across the full aperture is ~1.5, 2.5, 3.5, wavelengths, we get a maximum in total received power. These are the sidelobes of the antenna response. But, each successive maximum is weaker than the last. These maxima appear at (approximately): q = 3l/2D, 5l/2D, 7l/2D, radians. 14th Synthesis Imaging School 7

8 Interferometry Basic Concept We don t need a single parabolic structure. We can consider a series of small antennas, whose individual signals are summed in a network. This is the basic concept of interferometry. Aperture Synthesis is an extension of this concept.

9 Quasi-Monochromatic Radiation Analysis is simplest if the fields are perfectly monochromatic. This is not possible a perfectly monochromatic electric field would both have no power (Dn = 0), and would last forever. So we consider instead quasi-monochromatic radiation, where the bandwidth dn is very small. For a time dt ~1/dn, the electric fields will be sinusoidal. Consider then the electric fields from a small sold angle dw about some direction s, within some small bandwidth dn, at frequency n. We can write the temporal dependence of this field as: The amplitude and phase remains unchanged to a time duration of order dt ~1/dn, after which new values of A and f are needed. 14th Synthesis Imaging School 9

10 Simplifying Assumptions We now consider the most basic interferometer, and seek a relation between the characteristics of the product of the voltages from two separated antennas and the distribution of the brightness of the originating source emission. To establish the basic relations, the following simplifications are introduced: Fixed in space no rotation or motion Quasi-monochromatic (signals are sinusoidal) No frequency conversions (an RF interferometer ) Single polarization No propagation distortions (no ionosphere, atmosphere ) Idealized electronics (perfectly linear, no amplitude or phase perturbations, perfectly identical for both elements, no added noise, )

11 Symbols Used, and their Meanings We consider: two identical sensors, separated by vector distance b receiving signals from vector direction s at frequency n (angular frequency w = 2pn) From these, the key quantity is formed. This is the geometric time delay the extra time taken for the signal to reach the more distant sensor. Finally, the phase corresponding to this extra distance is defined: 14th Synthesis Imaging School 11

12 The Stationary, Quasi-Monochromatic Radio-Frequency Interferometer Geometric Time Delay s s multiply b X The path lengths from sensors to multiplier are assumed equal! average Unchanging Rapidly varying, with zero mean 14th Synthesis Imaging School 12

13 Antenna 1 Voltage Pictorial Example: Signals In Phase 2 GHz Frequency, with voltages in phase: b.s = nl, or t g = n/n Antenna 2 Voltage Product Voltage Average 14th Synthesis Imaging School 13

14 Pictorial Example: Signals in Quad Phase 2 GHz Frequency, with voltages in quadrature phase: b.s=(n +/- ¼)l, t g = (4n +/- 1)/4n Antenna 1 Voltage Antenna 2 Voltage Product Voltage Average 14th Synthesis Imaging School 14

15 Pictorial Example: Signals out of Phase 2 GHz Frequency, with voltages out of phase: b.s=(n +/- ½)l t g = (2n +/- 1)/2n Antenna 1 Voltage Antenna 2 Voltage Product Voltage Average 14th Synthesis Imaging School 15

16 Some General Comments The averaged product R C is dependent on the received power, P = E 2 /2 and geometric delay, t g, and hence on the baseline orientation and source direction: Note that R C is not a a function of: The time of the observation -- provided the source itself is not variable. The location of the baseline -- provided the emission is in the far-field. The actual phase of the incoming signal the distance of the source does not matter, provided it is in the far-field. The strength of the product is dependent on the antenna collecting areas and electronic gains but these factors can be calibrated for. 14th Synthesis Imaging School 16

17 Pictorial Illustrations To illustrate the response, expand the dot product in one dimension: Here, u = b/l is the baseline length in wavelengths, and q is the angle w.r.t. the plane perpendicular to the baseline. l = cos a = sin q is the direction cosine s q a b Consider the response R c, as a function of angle, for two different baselines with u = 10, and u = 25 wavelengths: R C = cos( 20 p l ) 14th Synthesis Imaging School 17

18 Whole-Sky Response Top: u = 10 R C = cos( 20 p l ) There are 20 whole fringes over the hemisphere. Peak separation 1/10 radians Bottom: u = 25 R C = cos( 50 p l ) There are 50 whole fringes over the hemisphere. Peak separation 1/25 radians

19 From an Angular Perspective q Top Panel: The absolute value of the response for u = 10, as a function of angle. The lobes of the response pattern alternate in sign Bottom Panel: The same, but for u = 25. Angular separation between lobes (of the same sign) is dq ~ 1/u = l/b radians. + 10

20 Hemispheric Pattern The preceding plot is a meridional cut through the hemisphere, oriented along the baseline vector. In the two-dimensional space, the fringe pattern consists of a series of coaxial cones, oriented along the baseline vector. The figure is a two-dimensional representation when u = 4. As viewed along the baseline vector, the fringes show a bulls-eye pattern concentric circles. 14th Synthesis Imaging School 20

21 The Effect of the Sensor The patterns shown presume the sensor (antenna) has isotropic response. This is a convenient assumption, but doesn t represent reality. Real sensors impose their own patterns, which modulate the amplitude and phase, of the output. Large antennas have very high directivity -- very useful for some applications.

22 The Effect of Sensor Patterns Sensors (or antennas) are not isotropic, and have their own responses. Top Panel: The interferometer pattern with a cos(q)-like sensor response. Bottom Panel: A multiple-wavelength aperture antenna has a narrow beam, but also sidelobes.

23 The Response from an Extended Source The response from an extended source is obtained by summing the responses at each antenna to all the emission over the sky, multiplying the two, and averaging: The averaging and integrals can be interchanged and, providing the emission is spatially incoherent, we get This expression links what we want the source brightness on the sky, I n (s), to something we can measure - R C, the interferometer response. Can we recover I n (s) from observations of R C? 14th Synthesis Imaging School 23

24 A Schematic Illustration in 2-D The correlator can be thought of casting a cosinusoidal coherence pattern, of angular scale ~l/b radians, onto the sky. The correlator multiplies the source brightness by this coherence pattern, and integrates (sums) the result over the sky. Orientation set by baseline geometry. Fringe separation set by (projected) baseline length and wavelength. Long baseline gives close-packed fringes Short baseline gives widelyseparated fringes Physical location of baseline unimportant, provided source is in the far field Fringe Sign l/b l/b rad. Source brightness

25 A Short Mathematics Digression Odd and Even Functions Any real function, I(x,y), can be expressed as the sum of two real functions which have specific symmetries: An even part: An odd part: I I E I I E I O = + I O 14th Synthesis Imaging School 25

26 Why One Correlator is Not Enough The correlator response, R c : is not enough to recover the correct brightness. Why? Only the even part of the distribution is seen. Suppose that the source of emission has a component with odd symmetry: I o (s) = -I o (-s) Since the cosine fringe pattern is even, the response of our interferometer to the odd brightness distribution is 0. Hence, we need more information if we are to completely recover the source brightness. 14th Synthesis Imaging School 26

27 Why Two Correlations are Needed The integration of the cosine response, R c, over the source brightness is sensitive to only the even part of the brightness: since the integral of an odd function (I O ) with an even function (cos x) is zero. To recover the odd part of the brightness, I O, we need an odd fringe pattern. Let us replace the cos with sin in the integral since the integral of an even times an odd function is zero. To obtain this necessary component, we must make a sine pattern. How?

28 Making a SIN Correlator We generate the sine pattern by inserting a 90 degree phase shift in one of the signal paths. s s b A Sensor X 90 o multiply average

29 Define the Complex Visibility We now DEFINE a complex function, the complex visibility, V, from the two independent (real) correlator outputs R C and R S : where This gives us a beautiful and useful relationship between the source brightness, and the response of an interferometer: With the right geometry, this is a 2-D Fourier transform, giving us a well established way to recover I(s) from V(b).

30 The Complex Correlator and Complex Notation A correlator which produces both Real and Imaginary parts or the Cosine and Sine fringes, is called a Complex Correlator For a complex correlator, think of two independent sets of projected sinusoids, 90 degrees apart on the sky. In our scenario, both components are necessary, because we have assumed there is no motion the fringes are fixed on the source emission, which is itself stationary. The complex output of the complex correlator also means we can use complex analysis throughout: Let: V V 1 2 = = A cos( A cos[ w t ) w ( t = - Re b - iw t ( Ae s / c )] = Re - iw ( t - b s / c ) ( Ae Then: P corr = V V 1 * 2 = A 2 e - iw b s / c

31 Wideband Phase Shifters Hilbert Transform For a quasi-monochromatic signal, forming a the 90 degree phase shift to the signal path is easy --- add a piece of cable l/4 wavelengths long. For a wideband system, this obviously won t work. In general, a wideband device which phase shifts each spectral component by 90 degrees, while leaving the amplitude intact, is a Hilbert Transform. For real interferometers, such an operation can be performed by analog devices. Far more commonly, this is done using digital techniques. The complex function formed by a real function and its Hilbert transform is termed the analytic signal. 14th Synthesis Imaging School 31

32 Picturing the Visibility The source brightness is Gaussian, shown in black. The interferometer fringes are in red. The visibility is the integral of the product the net dark green area. R C R S Long Baseline Long Baseline Short Baseline Short Baseline 14th Synthesis Imaging School 32

33 Examples of 1-Dimensional Visibilities Simple pictures are easy to make illustrating 1-dimensional visibilities. Unresolved Doubles Brightness Distribution Visibility Function Uniform Central Peaked 14th Synthesis Imaging School 33

34 More Examples Simple pictures are easy to make illustrating 1-dimensional visibilities. Brightness Distribution Visibility Function Resolved Double Resolved Double Central Peaked Double 14th Synthesis Imaging School 34

35 Another Way to Conceptualize For those of you adept in thinking in terms of complex functions, another way to picture the effect of the interferometer may be attractive The interferometer casts a *phase slope* across the (real) brightness distribution. The phase slope becomes steeper for longer baselines, or higher frequencies, and is zero for zero baseline. The phase is zero at the phase origin. The amplitude response is unity (ignoring the primary beam) throughout. The Visibility is the complex integral of the brightness times the phase ramp. 14th Synthesis Imaging School 35

36 The Complex Integral Amplitude 2p 1/u l = sin q

37 Basic Characteristics of the Visibility For a zero-spacing interferometer, we get the single-dish (total-power) response. As the baseline gets longer, the visibility amplitude will in general decline. When the visibility is close to zero, the source is said to be resolved out. Interchanging antennas in a baseline causes the phase to be negated the visibility of the reversed baseline is the complex conjugate of the original. (Why?) Mathematically, the visibility is Hermitian. (V(u) = V*(-u)).

38 Some Comments on Visibilities The Visibility is a unique function of the source brightness. The two functions are related through a Fourier transform. V ( u, v ) I ( l, m ) An interferometer, at any one time, makes one measure of the visibility, at baseline coordinate (u,v). `Sufficient knowledge of the visibility function (as derived from an interferometer) will provide us a `reasonable estimate of the source brightness. How many is sufficient, and how good is reasonable? These simple questions do not have easy answers

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