Spectral Line Observations

by Gustaaf Van Moorsel last modified Jun 05, 2013

Diamond (1995) and Reid (1995, 1999) describe the special problems encountered during data acquisition, correlation, and post-processing of a spectral line program.  The spectral line user must know the transition rest frequency, the approximate velocity and velocity width for the line target, and the corresponding observing frequency and bandwidth.  The schedule should include observations of a strong continuum source to be used for fringe-finding, "manual" phase calibration, and bandpass calibration; as well as scans of a continuum source reasonably close to the line target to be used as a fringe-rate and delay calibrator.  The pulse cal generators should be disabled.

Post-processing steps include performing Doppler corrections for the Earth's rotation and orbital motion (the correction for rotation is not necessary for observations when station-based fringe rotation is applied, as is the case for the VLBA); amplitude calibration using single-antenna spectra; fringe fitting the continuum calibrators and applying the results to the line target; referencing phases to a strong spectral feature in the line source itself; and deciding whether to do fringe rate mapping or normal synthesis imaging and then form a spectral line cube.  All these post-processing steps can currently be done in AIPS.

Data reduction techniques for VLBI spectral line polarimetry are discussed by Kemball, Diamond, & Cotton (1995) and Kemball (1999).