The Murchison Widefield Array: Design Overview

Kavli Affiliate: Edward Morgan

| First 5 Authors: Colin J. Lonsdale, Roger J. Cappallo, Miguel F. Morales, Frank H. Briggs, Leonid Benkevitch

| Summary:

The Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) is a dipole-based aperture array
synthesis telescope designed to operate in the 80-300 MHz frequency range. It
is capable of a wide range of science investigations, but is initially focused
on three key science projects. These are detection and characterization of
3-dimensional brightness temperature fluctuations in the 21cm line of neutral
hydrogen during the Epoch of Reionization (EoR) at redshifts from 6 to 10,
solar imaging and remote sensing of the inner heliosphere via propagation
effects on signals from distant background sources,and high-sensitivity
exploration of the variable radio sky. The array design features 8192
dual-polarization broad-band active dipoles, arranged into 512 tiles comprising
16 dipoles each. The tiles are quasi-randomly distributed over an aperture
1.5km in diameter, with a small number of outliers extending to 3km. All
tile-tile baselines are correlated in custom FPGA-based hardware, yielding a
Nyquist-sampled instantaneous monochromatic uv coverage and unprecedented point
spread function (PSF) quality. The correlated data are calibrated in real time
using novel position-dependent self-calibration algorithms. The array is
located in the Murchison region of outback Western Australia. This region is
characterized by extremely low population density and a superbly radio-quiet
environment,allowing full exploitation of the instrumental capabilities.

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