EDP Sciences
Free access
Volume 441, Number 3, October III 2005
Page(s) 1217 - 1228
Section Instruments, observational techniques, and data processing
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20052990

A&A 441, 1217-1228 (2005)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20052990

Faraday rotation measure synthesis

M. A. Brentjens1, 2 and A. G. de Bruyn2, 1

1  Kapteyn Astronomical Institute, University of Groningen, PO Box 800, 9700 AV Groningen, The Netherlands
    e-mail: m.a.brentjens@astro.rug.nl
2  ASTRON, PO Box 2, 7990 AA Dwingeloo, The Netherlands

(Received 4 March 2005 / Accepted 20 June 2005 )

We extend the rotation measure work of Burn (1966, MNRAS, 133, 67) to the cases of limited sampling of $\lambda^2$ space and non-constant emission spectra. We introduce the rotation measure transfer function (RMTF), which is an excellent predictor of $n\pi$ ambiguity problems with the $\lambda^2$ coverage. Rotation measure synthesis can be implemented very efficiently on modern computers. Because the analysis is easily applied to wide fields, one can conduct very fast RM surveys of weak spatially extended sources. Difficult situations, for example multiple sources along the line of sight, are easily detected and transparently handled. Under certain conditions, it is even possible to recover the emission as a function of Faraday depth within a single cloud of ionized gas. Rotation measure synthesis has already been successful in discovering widespread, weak, polarized emission associated with the Perseus cluster (de Bruyn & Brentjens 2005, A&A, 441, 931). In simple, high signal to noise situations it is as good as traditional linear fits to $\chi$ versus $\lambda^2$ plots. However, when the situation is more complex or very weak polarized emission at high rotation measures is expected, it is the only viable option.

Key words: methods: data analysis -- techniques: polarimetric -- magnetic fields -- polarization -- ISM: magnetic fields -- Cosmology: large-scale structure of Universe

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