The continuum subarray option offers two 1 GHz baseband pairs with the 8-bit samplers in up to 3 subarrays or four 2 GHz baseband pairs with the 3-bit samplers, with the same spectral channel and polarization product options as are available for wideband observing. The setup for each subarray is completely independent in terms of observing frequency, polarization products, and integration times.

When using three subarrays, there are some restrictions on the number of antennas in each subarray. The Baseline Board in the correlator treats each set of 4 antennas independently, using a separate column of correlator chips. With 8 such columns, the correlator can handle up to 8×4 = 32 antennas. The correlator configuration software requires that a given column not be split across subarrays. This does not matter when using only two subarrays, but forces some subtle restrictions when using three. For instance, one cannot observe with 9 antennas in each of 3 subarrays, because 9 antennas requires three columns (two with 4 antennas each, and one with 1 antenna); three subarrays of 9 antennas each would require 3×3 = 9 columns, one more than are actually available. Splitting the array into 10, 9, and 8 antennas is allowed, since the first two subarrays use 3 columns each, while the third uses only two.

Table 3.8.1 gives four examples of how correlator resources can be split into multiple subarrays. Antennas in each subarray are color-coded: red for subarray 1, green for subarray 2 (if present), and blue for subarray 3 (if present). The last column gives the number of antennas in each subarray (e.g., in the setup shown in the first row, subarray 1 has 10 antennas, subarray 2 has 9 antennas, and subarray 3 has 8 antennas). In all cases a total of 27 antennas are used. The columns are numbered in reverse order (C7 to C0) to match the numbering scheme used on the actual Baseline Boards.

Table 3.8.1: Some Possible Subarray Options
Number of antennas correlated using each Baseline Board columnNumber
of antennas
C7 C6 C5 C4 C3 C2 C1 C0
4 4 2 4 4 1 4 4 10 + 9 + 8
4 4 4 2 4 4 4 1 14 + 13
4 4 3 4 4 3 3 2 11 + 11 + 5
4 4 4 4 4 4 3 27

For more information on subarrays, please see the Subarray section in the Guide to Observing with the VLA.