27 July 2016 Atmospheric phase characteristics of the ALMA long baseline
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Abstract
Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) is the world’s largest millimeter/ submillimeter (mm / Submm) interferometer. Along with science observations, ALMA has performed several long baseline campaigns in the last 6 years to characterize and optimize its long baseline capabilities. To achieve full long baseline capability of ALMA, it is important to understand the characteristics of atmospheric phase fluctuation at long baselines, since it is believed to be the main cause of mm/submm image degradation. For the first time, we present detailed properties of atmospheric phase fluctuation at mm/submm wavelength from baselines up to 15 km in length. Atmospheric phase fluctuation increases as a function of baseline length with a power-law slope close to 0.6, and many of the data display a shallower slope (02.-03) at baseline length greater than about 15 km. Some of the data, on the other hand, show a single slope up to the maximum baseline length of around 15 km. The phase correction method based on water vapor radiometers (WVRs) works well, especially for cases with precipitable water vapor (PWV) greater than 1 mm, typically yielding a 50% decrease or more in the degree of phase fluctuation. However, signicant amount of atmospheric phase fluctuation still remains after the WVR phase correction: about 200 micron in rms excess path length (rms phase fluctuation in unit of length) even at PWV less than 1 mm. This result suggests the existence of other non-water-vapor sources of phase fluctuation. and emphasizes the need for additional phase correction methods, such as band-to-band and/or fast switching.
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Satoki Matsushita, Satoki Matsushita, Yoshiharu Asaki, Yoshiharu Asaki, Edward B. Fomalont, Edward B. Fomalont, Denis Barkats, Denis Barkats, Stuartt A. Corder, Stuartt A. Corder, Richard E. Hills, Richard E. Hills, Ryohei Kawabe, Ryohei Kawabe, Luke T. Maud, Luke T. Maud, Koh-Ichiro Morita, Koh-Ichiro Morita, Bojan Nikolic, Bojan Nikolic, Remo P. J. Tilanus, Remo P. J. Tilanus, Catherine Vlahakis, Catherine Vlahakis, "Atmospheric phase characteristics of the ALMA long baseline", Proc. SPIE 9906, Ground-based and Airborne Telescopes VI, 99064X (27 July 2016); doi: 10.1117/12.2231846; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2231846
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