New, larger and more complex radio telescopes bring new challenges. Foremost among these is the calibration of the data in order to remove atmospheric and instrumental effects which corrupt the exceedingly faint signals from cosmic sources.
The world radio astronomical community is planning some major new radio facilities. Foremost among these is LOFAR, constructed largely within the Netherlands. It is considered THE pathfinder for the SKA, the Square Kilometre Array, a project supported and led by the world radio community. New, larger and more complex radio telescopes bring new challenges. Foremost among these is the calibration of the data in order to remove atmospheric and instrumental effects which corrupt the exceedingly faint signals from cosmic sources. Indeed, the scientific success of the new generation of radio telescopes will depend critically on the ability to calibrate the data, and to deliver 'thermal-noise-limited' performance. That is to say, the quality of the products of synthesis array telescopes - like images, spectra and temporal lightcurves of the objects that are visible in the wide fields of view - must justify the expenses made to build the enormous collecting area and infrastructure.
Many of the challenges facing the new radio arrays deal with novel aspects of array signal processing and calibration. Some of the most important developments in this area in the past 15 years have come from Dutch groups, based at ASTRON, Delft and the Kapteyn Institute. The research proposed here will be conducted in a partnership between these three groups.
The project consists of four work packages:
Delft: PhD student: "New approaches to radio astronomical image formation"
ASTRON: Postdoc: "The next generation of self-calibration algorithms"
Groningen: Postdoc: "Modeling of, and correcting for, ionospheric effects in LOFAR"
ASTRON: Postdoc : "Streamlining of data processing"