Resolution

by Stephan W. Witz last modified Apr 04, 2012
JVLA Resolution

The EVLA's resolution is generally diffraction-limited, and thus is set by the array configuration and frequency of observation. It is important to be aware that a synthesis array is "blind" to structures on angular scales both smaller and larger than the range of fringe spacings given by the antenna distribution. For the former limitation, the EVLA acts like any single antenna - structures smaller than the diffraction limit (θ ∼ λ/D) are broadened to the resolution of the antenna. The latter limitation is unique to interferometers; it means that structures on angular scales significantly larger than the fringe spacing formed by the shortest baseline are not measured. No subsequent processing can fully recover this missing information, which can only be obtained by observing in a smaller array configuration, by using the mosaicing method, or by utilizing data from an instrument (such as a large single antenna or an array comprising smaller antennas) which provides this information.

Table 5 summarizes the relevant information. This table shows the maximum and minimum antenna separations, the approximate synthesized beam size (full width at half-power), and the scale at which severe attenuation of large scale structure occurs.

These estimates of the synthesized beamwidth are for a uniformly weighted, untapered map produced from a full 12 hour synthesis observation of a source which passes near the zenith.
Footnotes:
1. Bmax is the maximum antenna separation, Bmin is the minimum antenna separation, θHPBW is the synthesized beam width (FWHM), and θLAS is the largest scale structure "visible" to the array.
2. The listed resolutions are appropriate for sources with declinations between −15 and 75 degrees. For sources outside this range, the extended north arm hybrid configurations (DnC, CnB, BnA) should be used, and will provide resolutions similar to the smaller configuration of the hybrid, except for declinations south of −30. No double-extended north arm hybrid configuration (e.g., DnB, or CnA) is provided.
3. The approximate resolution for a naturally weighted map is about 1.5 times the numbers listed for θHPBW. The values for snapshots are about 1.3 times the listed values.
4. The largest angular scale structure is that which can be imaged reasonably well in full synthesis observations. For single snapshot observations the quoted numbers should be divided by two.
5. For the C configuration an antenna from the middle of the north arm is moved to the central pad "N1". This results in improved imaging for extended objects, but will degrade snapshot performance. Note that although the minimum spacing is the same as in D configuration, the surface brightness sensitivity to extended structure is considerably inferior to that of the D configuration.
6. The S and Ku bands do not yet have a full complement of antennas, so the exact values will depend on the rate of antenna outfitting and the placement of individual antennas in the various configurations.
7. At X-band the default VLA frequency of 8.5 GHz has been assumed, since there are insufficient EVLA 8-12 GHz receivers available yet to determine system performance across the band.

A project with the goal of doubling the longest baseline available in the A configuration by establishing a real-time fiber optic link between the VLA and the VLBA antenna at Pie Town was established in the late 1990s, and used through 2005. This link is no longer operational; there is a goal (unfunded, at present) of implementing a new digital Pie Town link after the EVLA construction project has been completed.