Volume 626, June 2019
|Number of page(s)||20|
|Section||Numerical methods and codes|
|Published online||14 June 2019|
rPICARD: A CASA-based calibration pipeline for VLBI data
Calibration and imaging of 7 mm VLBA observations of the AGN jet in M 87
Department of Astrophysics/IMAPP, Radboud University Nijmegen, PO Box 9010, 6500 GL Nijmegen, The Netherlands
2 ALLEGRO/Leiden Observatory, Leiden University, PO Box 9513, 2300 RA Leiden, The Netherlands
3 Joint Institute for VLBI ERIC, Dwingeloo Postbus 2 7990 AA, The Netherlands
4 Istituto di Radioastronomia (INAF – IRA), Via P. Gobetti 101, 40129 Bologna, Italy
5 Observatorio de Yebes – IGN, Cerro de la Palera S/N, 19141 Yebes, Guadalajara, Spain
6 Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, 60 Garden St., Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
7 Black Hole Initiative at Harvard University, 20 Garden St., Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
Accepted: 29 April 2019
Context. The Common Astronomy Software Application (CASA) software suite, which is a state-of-the-art package for radio astronomy, can now reduce very long baseline interferometry (VLBI) data with the recent addition of a fringe fitter.
Aims. Here, we present the Radboud PIpeline for the Calibration of high Angular Resolution Data (rPICARD), which is an open-source VLBI calibration and imaging pipeline built on top of the CASA framework. The pipeline is capable of reducing data from different VLBI arrays. It can be run non-interactively after only a few non-default input parameters are set and delivers high-quality calibrated data. CPU scalability based on a message-passing interface (MPI) implementation ensures that large bandwidth data from future arrays can be processed within reasonable computing times.
Methods. Phase calibration is done with a Schwab–Cotton fringe fit algorithm. For the calibration of residual atmospheric effects, optimal solution intervals are determined based on the signal-to-noise ratio (S/N) of the data for each scan. Different solution intervals can be set for different antennas in the same scan to increase the number of detections in the low S/N regime. These novel techniques allow rPICARD to calibrate data from different arrays, including high-frequency and low-sensitivity arrays. The amplitude calibration is based on standard telescope metadata, and a robust algorithm can solve for atmospheric opacity attenuation in the high-frequency regime. Standard CASA tasks are used for CLEAN imaging and self-calibration.
Results. In this work we demonstrate the capabilities of rPICARD by calibrating and imaging 7 mm Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) data of the central radio source in the M 87 galaxy. The reconstructed jet image reveals a complex collimation profile and edge-brightened structure, in accordance with previous results. A potential counter-jet is detected that has 10% of the brightness of the approaching jet. This constrains jet speeds close to the radio core to about half the speed of light for small inclination angles.
Key words: atmospheric effects / techniques: high angular resolution / instrumentation: interferometers / methods: data analysis
© ESO 2019
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