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Absolute Calibration Strategies for the Hydrogen Epoch of Reionization Array and Their Impact on the 21 cm Power Spectrum

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We discuss absolute calibration strategies for Phase I of the Hydrogen Epoch of Reionization Array (HERA), which aims to measure the cosmological 21 cm signal from the Epoch of Reionization (EoR). HERA is a drift-scan array with a 10 degree wide field of view, meaning bright, well-characterized point source transits are scarce. This, combined with HERA's redundant sampling of the uv plane and the modest angular resolution of the Phase I instrument, make traditional sky-based and self-calibration techniques difficult to implement with high dynamic range. Nonetheless, in this work we demonstrate calibration for HERA using point source catalogues and electromagnetic simulations of its primary beam. We show that unmodeled diffuse flux and instrumental contaminants can corrupt the gain solutions, and present a gain smoothing approach for mitigating their impact on the 21 cm power spectrum. We also demonstrate a hybrid sky and redundant calibration scheme and compare it to pure sky-based calibration, showing only a marginal improvement to the gain solutions at intermediate delay scales. Our work suggests that the HERA Phase I system can be well-calibrated for a foreground-avoidance power spectrum estimator by applying direction-independent gains with a small set of degrees of freedom across the frequency and time axes.



astro-ph.IM, astro-ph.IM, astro-ph.CO

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Astrophysical Journal

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American Astronomical Society


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