A new approach to the assessment of stochastic errors of radio source position catalogues
1 Pulkovo Observatory, 196140 St. Petersburg, Russia
2 St. Petersburg State University, 198504 St. Petersburg, Russia
Received: 21 July 2013
Accepted: 12 August 2013
Assessing the external stochastic errors of radio source position catalogues derived from VLBI observations is important for tasks such as estimating the quality of the catalogues and their weighting during combination. One of the widely used methods to estimate these errors is the three-cornered-hat technique, which can be extended to the N-cornered-hat technique. A critical point of this method is how to properly account for the correlations between the compared catalogues. We present a new approach to solving this problem that is suitable for simultaneous investigations of several catalogues. To compute the correlation between two catalogues A and B, the differences between these catalogues and a third arbitrary catalogue C are computed. Then the correlation between these differences is considered as an estimate of the correlation between catalogues A and B. The average value of these estimates over all catalogues C is taken as a final estimate of the target correlation. In this way, an exhaustive search of all possible combinations allows one to compute the paired correlations between all catalogues. As an additional refinement of the method, we introduce the concept of weighted correlation coefficient. This technique was applied to nine recently published radio source position catalogues. We found large systematic differences between catalogues, that significantly impact determination of their stochastic errors. Finally, we estimated the stochastic errors of the nine catalogues.
Key words: astrometry / reference systems / methods: data analysis
© ESO, 2013