Volume 590, June 2016
|Number of page(s)||16|
|Section||Numerical methods and codes|
|Published online||11 May 2016|
Tomography of the Galactic free electron density with the Square Kilometer Array
Max-Planck-Institut für Astrophysik, Karl-Schwarzschild-Str. 1, 85748
2 Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie, Auf dem Hügel 69, 53121 Bonn, Germany
Received: 10 June 2015
Accepted: 9 March 2016
We present a new algorithm for reconstructing the Galactic free electron density from pulsar dispersion measures. The algorithm performs a nonparametric tomography for a density field with an arbitrary amount of degrees of freedom. It is based on approximating the Galactic free electron density as the product of a profile function with a statistically isotropic and homogeneous log-normal field. Under this approximation the algorithm generates a map of the free electron density as well as an uncertainty estimate without the need of information about the power spectrum. The uncertainties of the pulsar distances are treated consistently by an iterative procedure. We tested the algorithm using the NE2001 model with modified fluctuations as a Galaxy model, pulsar populations generated from the Lorimer population model, and mock observations emulating the upcoming Square Kilometer Array (SKA). We show the quality of the reconstruction for mock data sets containing between 1000 and 10 000 pulsars with distance uncertainties of up to 25%. Our results show that with the SKA nonparametric tomography of the Galactic free electron density becomes feasible, but the quality of the reconstruction is very sensitive to the distance uncertainties.
Key words: Galaxy: structure / ISM: structure / pulsars: general
© ESO, 2016
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