32 research outputs found

### Theory and Simulations of Refractive Substructure in Resolved Scatter-Broadened Images

At radio wavelengths, scattering in the interstellar medium distorts the
appearance of astronomical sources. Averaged over a scattering ensemble, the
result is a blurred image of the source. However, Narayan & Goodman (1989) and
Goodman & Narayan (1989) showed that for an incomplete average, scattering
introduces refractive substructure in the image of a point source that is both
persistent and wideband. We show that this substructure is quenched but not
smoothed by an extended source. As a result, when the scatter-broadening is
comparable to or exceeds the unscattered source size, the scattering can
introduce spurious compact features into images. In addition, we derive
efficient strategies to numerically compute realistic scattered images, and we
present characteristic examples from simulations. Our results show that
refractive substructure is an important consideration for ongoing missions at
the highest angular resolutions, and we discuss specific implications for
RadioAstron and the Event Horizon Telescope.Comment: Equation numbering in appendix now matches published version. Two
minor typos correcte

### Sub-Microarcsecond Astrometry and New Horizons in Relativistic Gravitational Physics

Attaining the limit of sub-microarcsecond optical resolution will completely
revolutionize fundamental astrometry by merging it with relativistic
gravitational physics. Beyond the sub-microarcsecond threshold, one will meet
in the sky a new population of physical phenomena caused by primordial
gravitational waves from early universe and/or different localized astronomical
sources, space-time topological defects, moving gravitational lenses, time
variability of gravitational fields of the solar system and binary stars, and
many others. Adequate physical interpretation of these yet undetectable
sub-microarcsecond phenomena can not be achieved on the ground of the
"standard" post-Newtonian approach (PNA), which is valid only in the near-zone
of astronomical objects having a time-dependent gravitational field. We
describe a new, post-Minkowskian relativistic approach for modeling astrometric
observations having sub-microarcsecond precision and briefly discuss the
light-propagation effects caused by gravitational waves and other phenomena
related to time-dependent gravitational fields. The domain of applicability of
the PNA in relativistic space astrometry is explicitly outlined.Comment: 5 pages, the talk given at the IAU Colloquium 180 "Towards Models and
Constants for Sub-Microarcsecond Astrometry", Washington DC, March 26 - April
2, 200

### Optimal Correlation Estimators for Quantized Signals

Using a maximum-likelihood criterion, we derive optimal correlation
strategies for signals with and without digitization. We assume that the
signals are drawn from zero-mean Gaussian distributions, as is expected in
radio-astronomical applications, and we present correlation estimators both
with and without a priori knowledge of the signal variances. We demonstrate
that traditional estimators of correlation, which rely on averaging products,
exhibit large and paradoxical noise when the correlation is strong. However, we
also show that these estimators are fully optimal in the limit of vanishing
correlation. We calculate the bias and noise in each of these estimators and
discuss their suitability for implementation in modern digital correlators.Comment: 8 Pages, 3 Figures, Submitted to Ap

### Gravitational Radiation and Very Long Baseline Interferometry

Gravitational waves affect the observed direction of light from distant
sources. At telescopes, this change in direction appears as periodic variations
in the apparent positions of these sources on the sky; that is, as proper
motion. A wave of a given phase, traveling in a given direction, produces a
characteristic pattern of proper motions over the sky. Comparison of observed
proper motions with this pattern serves to test for the presence of
gravitational waves. A stochastic background of waves induces apparent proper
motions with specific statistical properties, and so, may also be sought. In
this paper we consider the effects of a cosmological background of
gravitational radiation on astrometric observations. We derive an equation for
the time delay measured by two antennae observing the same source in an
Einstein-de Sitter spacetime containing gravitational radiation. We also show
how to obtain similar expressions for curved Friedmann-Robertson-Walker
spacetimes.Comment: 31 pages plus 3 separate figures, plain TeX, submitted to Ap

### Quasar Proper Motions and Low-Frequency Gravitational Waves

We report observational upper limits on the mass-energy of the cosmological
gravitational-wave background, from limits on proper motions of quasars.
Gravitational waves with periods longer than the time span of observations
produce a simple pattern of apparent proper motions over the sky, composed
primarily of second-order transverse vector spherical harmonics. A fit of such
harmonics to measured motions yields a 95%-confidence limit on the mass-energy
of gravitational waves with frequencies <2e-9 Hz, of <0.11/h*h times the
closure density of the universe.Comment: 15 pages, 1 figure. Also available at
http://charm.physics.ucsb.edu:80/people/cgwinn/cgwinn_group/index.htm

### Radio-wave propagation in the non-Gaussian interstellar medium

Radio waves propagating from distant pulsars in the interstellar medium
(ISM), are refracted by electron density inhomogeneities, so that the intensity
of observed pulses fluctuates with time. The theory relating the observed pulse
time-shapes to the electron-density correlation function has developed for 30
years, however, two puzzles have remained. First, observational scaling of
pulse broadening with the pulsar distance is anomalously strong; it is
consistent with the standard model only when non-uniform statistics of electron
fluctuations along the line of sight are assumed. Second, the observed pulse
shapes are consistent with the standard model only when the scattering material
is concentrated in a narrow slab between the pulsar and the Earth.
We propose that both paradoxes are resolved at once if one assumes stationary
and uniform, but non-Gaussian statistics of the electron-density distribution.
Such statistics must be of Levy type, and the propagating ray should exhibit a
Levy flight. We propose that a natural realization of such statistics may be
provided by the interstellar medium with random electron-density
discontinuities. We develop a theory of wave propagation in such a non-Gaussian
random medium, and demonstrate its good agreement with observations. The
qualitative introduction of the approach and the resolution of the
anomalous-scaling paradox was presented earlier in [PRL 91, 131101 (2003); ApJ
584, 791 (2003)].Comment: 27 pages, changes to match published versio

### VLBA Imaging of the OH Maser in IIIZw35

We present a parsec-scale image of the OH maser in the nucleus of the active
galaxy IIIZw35, made using the Very Long Baseline Array at a wavelength of 18
cm. We detected two distinct components, with a projected separation of 50 pc
(for D=110 Mpc) and a separation in Doppler velocity of 70 km/s, which contain
50% of the total maser flux. Velocity gradients within these components could
indicate rotation of clouds with binding mass densities of ~7000 solar masses
per cubic parsec, or total masses of more than 500,000 solar masses. Emission
in the 1665-MHz OH line is roughly coincident in position with that in the
1667-MHz line, although the lines peak at different Doppler velocities. We
detected no 18 cm continuum emission; our upper limit implies a peak apparent
optical depth greater than 3.4, assuming the maser is an unsaturated amplifier
of continuum radiation.Comment: 10 pages, 3 figure