Journal Article

A generalized measurement equation and van Cittert-Zernike theorem for wide-field radio astronomical interferometry

T. D. Carozzi and G. Woan

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 395, issue 3, pages 1558-1568
Published in print May 2009 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online May 2009 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
A generalized measurement equation and van Cittert-Zernike theorem for wide-field radio astronomical interferometry

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We derive a generalized van Cittert-Zernike (vC-Z) theorem for radio astronomy that is valid for partially polarized sources over an arbitrarily wide field of view (FoV). The classical vC-Z theorem is the theoretical foundation of radio astronomical interferometry, and its application is the basis of interferometric imaging. Existing generalized vC-Z theorems in radio astronomy assume, however, either paraxiality (narrow FoV) or scalar (unpolarized) sources. Our theorem uses neither of these assumptions, which are seldom fulfiled in practice in radio astronomy, and treats the full electromagnetic field. To handle wide, partially polarized fields, we extend the two-dimensional (2D) electric field (Jones vector) formalism of the standard ‘Measurement Equation’ (ME) of radio astronomical interferometry to the full three-dimensional (3D) formalism developed in optical coherence theory. The resulting vC-Z theorem enables full-sky imaging in a single telescope pointing, and imaging based not only on standard dual-polarized interferometers (that measure 2D electric fields) but also electric tripoles and electromagnetic vector-sensor interferometers. We show that the standard 2D ME is easily obtained from our formalism in the case of dual-polarized antenna element interferometers. We also exploit an extended 2D ME to determine that dual-polarized interferometers can have polarimetric aberrations at the edges of a wide FoV. Our vC-Z theorem is particularly relevant to proposed, and recently developed, wide FoV interferometers such as Low Frequency Array (LOFAR) and Square Kilometer Array (SKA), for which direction-dependent effects will be important.

Keywords: instrumentation: polarimeters; instrumentation: interferometers; techniques: interferometric; techniques: polarimetric; telescopes

Journal Article.  8768 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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