Fringe Finders

VLBI fringe phases are much more difficult to deal with than fringe amplitudes. If the a priori correlator model assumed for VLBI correlation is particularly poor, then the fringe phase can wind so rapidly in both time (the fringe rate) and in frequency (the delay) that no fringes will be found within the finite fringe rate and delay windows examined during correlation. Reasons for a poor a priori correlator model include source position and station location errors, atmospheric (tropospheric and ionospheric) propagation effects, and the behavior of the independent clocks at each station. Users observing sources with poorly known positions should plan to refine the positions first on another instrument. To allow accurate location of any previously unknown antennas and to allow VLBA staff to conduct periodic monitoring of clock drifts, each user should include one or more "fringe finder" sources which are strong, compact, and have accurately known positions. Consult the VLBA Fringe-Finder Survey webpage (based on Markowitz & Wurnig, 1998) to select a fringe finder for observations between between 20 cm and 7 mm; your choice will depend on your wavelengths but J0555+3948=DA193, J0927+3902=4C39.25, J1642+3948=3C345, and J2253+1608=3C454.3 are generally reliable in the range 13 cm to 2 cm. In addition, at 90 and 50 cm we recommend either J1331+3030=3C286 or J2253+1608=3C454.3. Fringe-finder positions, used by default by VLBA program SCHED (Walker 2011) and the VLBA correlator, are given in the standard source catalog available as an ancillary file with SCHED.