Just announced today, HERA has received a boost of $5.8M from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. This comes on top of the most recent $9.5M grant from the National Science Foundation. The NSF support provided for a core of 250 dishes and enough infrastructure to record from them. Support from the Moore foundation allows us to replace the aging dipole feeds, legacy hardware from the PAPER array which are starting to show their age. The new dipoles will have a broader bandwidth response allowing us to reach further back into cosmic time to look for evidence of first stars letting off the first real heat. The additional support from the Moore Foundation also lets us fully build the 350 dish core as planned.
Update: Here is a nice space.com article about the expansion which does a nice job explaining the physics.
This weekend, in a burst of activity with lots of hard work by students from ASU and Embry Riddle, it almost looks like we have dish. We’ve added the primary support pipes and in a marathon session of angle grinding, cut all the mesh pieces. Next time we’ll be putting the rest of the supports and installing the mesh! Thanks again to everyone who came out on a Friday or Saturday. Especially the ASU undergrads who gave up some spring break!
Follow along on the google album
Mike, Callie, Nivedita, and Alicia test fit the first mesh pieces.
primary supports and cut mesh
Friday work crew.
Saturday work crew
Today progress on the Prescott HERA dish took the form of building the dish hub and rim. The hub is where all the dish supports (25′ pvc pipes) meet. The hub is made using concentric “sonotube” concrete forms in which are embedded 3″ plastic pipes set in a radial pattern. Its basically a giant tinker toy hub made of cement. At the same time we also put up the rest of the rim support poles with their fixtures to receive the dish supports.
HERA Prescott Photo Album
Our work team today.
ECHO beam mapping is very repeatable. When we map two different antennas and subtract, the different is nearly zero. ECHO in blue, satellite measurements in grey.
Our first paper about the drone calibrator is out on the arxiv today! Using data from our field tests last year we measured the stability and accuracy of the beam maps. The repeatability compared well to measurements made using satellites (thats the plot on the right) and the measurements matched up well with the models. There were a few issues though. The main thing seems to be the stability of the antenna attachment to the drone. We’re sensitive to even a degree of rotation! Overall, though the thing worked a lot better than I was expecting, quite frankly.
The paper is here: https://arxiv.org/abs/1610.02607
When building any kind of instrument its really important for the people looking at the data to understand all the little things that go into building it and from an experimental perspective its key to be able to experiment with the hardware. With the primary construction going on in South Africa this is a challenge. Travel to site is key, but sometimes you can’t beat having your own copy.
With support from ASU, the Bowman lab, Embry Riddle, in collaboration with ERAU Professor Andri Gretarsson we are building a HERA dish at the Radio Observatory on the ERAU Prescott campus.
Today the survey was completed and the three primary telephone poles were installed!
HERA-Prescott poles. Ellie Gretarsson for scale.
Here’s some great news, the first stage of the Hydrogen Epoch of Reionization Array (HERA) has been finished and is now taking data. Now, witness the might of this fully operational battlestation. Well, actually we’re far from full size, so far we’ve got 19 out of the planned 350 dishes. Here’s a picture.Each dish is 14 meters (42ft) across. The feeds are borrowed from the PAPER array (seen in the background) and hung over the dishes from telephone poles ala Arecibo. The 19 element array has about the same collecting area and sensitivity as the full PAPER array.
In a couple years time HERA will cover the rest of the field, to be about the same size as Arecibo, actually. This is a big size: for Americans think eight football fields arranged in a two by four grid, or a typical super Walmart with an extra large parking lot. If you’re thinking ahead to the olympics in Brazil, HERA will be about the same size as Maracanã stadium where the opening ceremonies will be held.
Here is the field crew that built this first stage.
Now comes the fun of taking our new telescope for a test drive. Data taking has commenced and will continue until we start building to HERA 37 in 6 months or so. The data look great; the collecting area boost is amazing.
This year the Murchison Widefield Array annual December meeting was hosted by Arizona State University, here in Tempe. In celebration of over a year of active observing the meeting was opened to attendance and contributions from the wider community. The result was a rare convocation of the low frequency radio astronomy community. Topics ranged from transients and radio galaxies to 21 cm at cosmological distances. One of the highlights of the meeting was the announcement of the discovery of low altitude flux tubes in the ionosphere (Physics Today article). Remember friends, they aren’t image artifacts if they line up with the earths magnetic field lines!
The full list of participants along with most of the talk slides can be found over on mwatelescope.org.
The meeting was also preceded by a 5 day intensive work session by the Epoch of Reionization team.