Volume 620, December 2018
|Number of page(s)||6|
|Section||Celestial mechanics and astrometry|
|Published online||11 December 2018|
Determining the accuracy of VLBI radio source catalogs
School of Astronomy and Space Science, Key Laboratory of Modern Astronomy and Astrophysics (Ministry of Education), Nanjing University, 163 Xianlin Avenue, 210023 Nanjing, PR China
2 SYRTE, Observatoire de Paris, Université PSL, CNRS, Sorbonne Université, LNE, Paris, France
Accepted: 10 October 2018
Aims. We propose to estimate the accuracy of current very long baseline interferometry (VLBI) catalogs.
Methods. The difference of source position estimated from two decimation solutions was analyzed to estimate the scale factor and noise floor for the formal error of radio source positions by two different methods. In one method, we investigated the weighted root-square-mean (wrms) scatter of source positional differences versus the number of observed sessions; for the other one, we compared the wrms difference versus the formal error. Based on the estimated noise floor and scale factor, we determined the realistic error of radio source positions in the standard solution and compared it with that of Gaia DR2 and ICRF2 catalogs.
Results. The estimated scale factors from two methods are rather consistent, which is of ∼1.3 in both coordinates. As for the noise floor, it is estimated to be 20–25 μas for sources observed in at least ten sessions, and it could reduce down to ∼10 μas for sources which have been observed more than 1000 times. The inflated median formal error of our solution is of the same order as the Gaia DR2 catalog in declination and the direction of major axis of the error ellipse, but smaller by a factor of two in right ascension. With respect to the ICRF2 catalog, our solution yields an improved accuracy by a factor of about three.
Conclusions. Currently, the VLBI radio source catalog still provides source positions with the best accuracy which is about 20–25 μas. Moreover, the noise floor of VLBI catalogs could potentially reach 10 μas with more observations in the future.
Key words: astrometry / reference systems / catalogs
© ESO 2018
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