The low-frequency environment of the Murchison Widefield Array: radio-frequency interference analysis and mitigation

A. R. Offringa, R. B. Wayth, N. Hurley-Walker, D. L. Kaplan, N. Barry, A. P. Beardsley, M. E. Bell, G. Bernardi, J. D. Bowman, F. Briggs, J. R. Callingham, R. J. Cappallo, P. Carroll, A. A. Deshpande, J. S. Dillon, K. S. Dwarakanath, A. Ewall-Wice, L. Feng, B. -Q. For, B. M. GaenslerL. J. Greenhill, P. Hancock, B. J. Hazelton, J. N. Hewitt, L. Hindson, D. C. Jacobs, M. Johnston-Hollitt, A. D. Kapińska, H. -S. Kim, P. Kittiwisit, E. Lenc, J. Line, A. Loeb, C. J. Lonsdale, B. McKinley, S. R. McWhirter, D. A. Mitchell, M. F. Morales, E. Morgan, J. Morgan, A. R. Neben, D. Oberoi, S. M. Ord, S. Paul, B. Pindor, J. C. Pober, T. Prabu, P. Procopio, J. Riding, N. Udaya Shankar, S. Sethi, K. S. Srivani, L. Staveley-Smith, R. Subrahmanyan, I. S. Sullivan, M. Tegmark, N. Thyagarajan, S. J. Tingay, C. M. Trott, R. L. Webster, A. Williams, C. L. Williams, C. Wu, J. S. Wyithe, Q. Zheng

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    The Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) is a new low-frequency interferometric radio telescope built in Western Australia at one of the locations of the future Square Kilometre Array (SKA). We describe the automated radio-frequency interference (RFI) detection strategy implemented for the MWA, which is based on the AOFlagger platform, and present 72-231-MHz RFI statistics from 10 observing nights. RFI detection removes 1.1% of the data. RFI from digital TV (DTV) is observed 3% of the time due to occasional ionospheric or atmospheric propagation. After RFI detection and excision, almost all data can be calibrated and imaged without further RFI mitigation efforts, including observations within the FM and DTV bands. The results are compared to a previously published Low-Frequency Array (LOFAR) RFI survey. The remote location of the MWA results in a substantially cleaner RFI environment compared to LOFAR's radio environment, but adequate detection of RFI is still required before data can be analysed. We include specific recommendations designed to make the SKA more robust to RFI, including: the availability of sufficient computing power for RFI detection; accounting for RFI in the receiver design; a smooth band-pass response; and the capability of RFI detection at high time and frequency resolution (second and kHz-scale respectively).
    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere008
    Number of pages13
    JournalPublications of the Astronomical Society of Australia
    Publication statusPublished - 16 Jan 2015


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