A per-baseline, delay-spectrum technique for accessing the 21cm cosmic reionization signature

Aaron R. Parsons, Jonathan C. Pober, James E. Aguirre, Christopher L. Carilli, Daniel Jacobs, David F. Moore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

218 Scopus citations


A critical challenge in measuring the power spectrum of 21cm emission from cosmic reionization is compensating for the frequency dependence of an interferometer's sampling pattern, which can cause smooth-spectrum foregrounds to appear unsmooth and degrade the separation between foregrounds and the target signal. In this paper, we present an approach to foreground removal that explicitly accounts for this frequency dependence. We apply the delay transformation introduced in Parsons & Backer to each baseline of an interferometer to concentrate smooth-spectrum foregrounds within the bounds of the maximum geometric delays physically realizable on that baseline. By focusing on delay modes that correspond to image-domain regions beyond the horizon, we show that it is possible to avoid the bulk of smooth-spectrum foregrounds. We map the point-spread function of delay modes to k-space, showing that delay modes that are uncorrupted by foregrounds also represent samples of the three-dimensional power spectrum, and can be used to constrain cosmic reionization. Because it uses only spectral smoothness to differentiate foregrounds from the targeted 21cm signature, this per-baseline analysis approach relies on spectrally and spatially smooth instrumental responses for foreground removal. For sufficient levels of instrumental smoothness relative to the brightness of interfering foregrounds, this technique substantially reduces the level of calibration previously thought necessary to detect 21cm reionization. As a result, this approach places fewer constraints on antenna configuration within an array, and in particular, facilitates the adoption of configurations that are optimized for power-spectrum sensitivity. Under these assumptions, we demonstrate the potential for the Precision Array for Probing the Epoch of Reionization (PAPER) to detect 21cm reionization at an amplitude of 10mK2 near k ∼ 0.2 h Mpc-1 with 132 dipoles in 7 months of observing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number165
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 10 2012


  • cosmology: observations
  • instrumentation: interferometers
  • radio continuum: general
  • site testing
  • techniques: interferometric
  • telescopes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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