The LOFAR LBA Sky Survey I. survey description and preliminary data release

F. de Gasperin, W. L. Williams, P. Best, M. Bruggen, G. Brunetti, V. Cuciti, T. J. Dijkema, M. J. Hardcastle, M. J. Norden, A. Offringa, T. Shimwell, R. van Weeren, D. Bomans, A. Bonafede, A. Botteon, J. R. Callingham, R. Cassano, K. T. Chyzy, K. L. Emig, H. EdlerM. Haverkorn, G. Heald, V. Heesen, M. Iacobelli, H. T. Intema, M. Kadler, K. Malek, M. Mevius, G. Miley, B. Mingo, L. K. Morabito, J. Sabater, R. Morganti, E. Orru, R. Pizzo, I. Prandoni, A. Shulevski, C. Tasse, M. Vaccari, P. Zarka, H. Rottgering

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Context. The LOw Frequency ARray (LOFAR)istheonlyradiotelescopethatispresentlycapableofhigh-sensitivity,high-resolution (i.e. < 1mJybeam−1 and < 1500) observations at ultra-low frequencies(< 100MHz). To utilise these capabilities, theLOFAR Surveys Key Science Project is undertaking a large survey to cover the entire northern sky with Low Band Antenna (LBA) observations. Aims. The LOFAR LBA Sky Survey (LoLSS) aims to cover the entire northern sky with 3170 pointings in the frequency range between 42−66 MHz, at a resolution of 1500 and at a sensitivity of 1 mJybeam−1 (1σ). In this work, we outline the survey strategy, the observational status, and the calibration techniques. We also briefly describe several of our scientific motivations and present the preliminary public data release. Methods. The preliminary images were produced using a fully automated pipeline aimed at correcting all direction-independent effects in the data. Whilst the direction-dependent effects, such as those from the ionosphere, have not yet been corrected, the images presented in this work are still ten times more sensitive than previous available surveys at these low frequencies. Results. The preliminary data release covers 740 deg2 around the HETDEX spring field region at an angular resolution of 4700 with a median noise level of 5 mJybeam−1. The images and the catalogue of 25,247 sources have been publicly released. We demonstrate that the system is capable of reaching a root means quare (rms) noise of 1mJybeam−1 and an angular resolution of 1500 once direction dependent effects are accounted for. Conclusions. LoLSS will provide the ultra-low-frequency information for hundreds of thousands of radio sources, providing critical spectral information and producing a unique data set that can be used for a wide range of science topics, such as the search for high red shift galaxies and quasars,thestudyofthemagnetosphereofexoplanets,andthedetectionoftheoldestpopulationsofcosmic-rays in galaxies, clusters of galaxies, as well as those produced by active galactic nuclei (AGN).
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages19
JournalAstronomy & Astrophysics
Early online date17 Feb 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 Feb 2021


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