Skynet Algorithm for Single-Dish Radio Mapping I: Contaminant-Cleaning, Mapping, and Photometering Small-Scale Structures

18 Aug 2018  ·  Martin J. R., Reichart D. E., Dutton D. A., Maples M. P., Berger T. A., Ghigo F. D., Haislip J. B., Shaban O. H., Trotter A. S., Barnes L. M., Paggen M. L., Gao R. L., Salemi C. P., Langston G. I., Bussa S., Duncan J. A., White S., Heatherly S. A., Karlik J. B., Johnson E. M., Reichart J. E., Foster A. C., Kouprianov V. V., Mazlin S., Harvey J. ·

We present a single-dish mapping algorithm with a number of advantages over traditional techniques. (1) Our algorithm makes use of weighted modeling, instead of weighted averaging, to interpolate between signal measurements... This smooths the data, but without blurring the data beyond instrumental resolution. Techniques that rely on weighted averaging blur point sources sometimes as much as 40%. (2) Our algorithm makes use of local, instead of global, modeling to separate astronomical signal from instrumental and/or environmental signal drift along the telescope's scans. Other techniques, such as basket weaving, model this drift with simple functional forms (linear, quadratic, etc.) across the entirety of scans, limiting their ability to remove such contaminants. (3) Our algorithm makes use of a similar, local modeling technique to separate astronomical signal from radio-frequency interference (RFI), even if only continuum data are available. (4) Unlike other techniques, our algorithm does not require data to be collected on a rectangular grid or regridded before processing. (5) Data from any number of observations, overlapping or not, may be appended and processed together. (6) Any pixel density may be selected for the final image. We present our algorithm, and evaluate it using both simulated and real data. We are integrating it into the image-processing library of the Skynet Robotic Telescope Network, which includes optical telescopes spanning four continents, and now also Green Bank Observatory's 20-meter diameter radio telescope in West Virginia. Skynet serves hundreds of professional users, and additionally tens of thousands of students, of all ages. Default data products are generated on the fly, but will soon be customizable after the fact. read more

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Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics