Snapshots

by Stephan W. Witz last modified Dec 07, 2015 by Heidi Medlin

The two-dimensional geometry of the VLA allows a snapshot mode whereby short observations can be used to image relatively bright, unconfused sources. This mode is ideal for survey work where the sensitivity requirements are modest.

Single snapshots with good phase stability of strong sources should give dynamic ranges of a few hundred. Note that because the snapshot synthesized beam contains high sidelobes, the effects of background confusing sources are much worse than for full syntheses, especially at 20 cm and longer wavelengths in the D configuration. For instance, at 20 cm, a single snapshot will give a limiting noise of about 0.2 mJy. This level can be reduced by taking multiple snapshots separated by at least one hour. The deconvolution of the data is necessary to remove the effects of background sources. Before considering snapshot observations at 20 cm, users should first determine if the goals desired can be achieved with the existing Faint Images of the Radio Sky at Twenty-centimeters survey (FIRST, http://sundog.stsci.edu/top.html) (B configuration) or the NRAO VLA Sky Survey (NVSS, http://www.cv.nrao.edu/nvss/) (D configuration, all-sky).