Monday 15 July 2013

Freeze frame

On the right hand side of this web log there is an all-sky image. It is always the latest image that was taken with KAIRA, updated every minute or so in order to always be up-to-date. Apart from being an interesting curiosity, it is useful for the researchers, as it lets us keep tabs on the data flow and notice if something stops. But it also lets us monitor the radio sky for interesting events, whether an active Sun or pesky radio-frequency interference (RFI).

However, some you may have noticed that it hasn't updated recently. It is still set at this image, taken on the evening of the 9th July 2013.

The last "regular" all-sky image... at least for a little while, while we complete the
visualisation software for the new correlator mode that we are now running.

The reason for the stop at this point has nothing to do with a failure of the system. In fact, KAIRA is still working; still observing 24-hours a day. What has happened is that we have changed our correlator mode.

At KAIRA, we are always experimenting with new and interesting ways of using the LOFAR technology. From the now-popular 357 mode, through to wide bandwidth low-bit observing, we pride ourselves in the novel usage of the system to visualise and discover new things about the natural universe.

Currently, we are at it again. This time we're experimenting with a new station correlator configuration. This will allow us to carry out a different type of radio astronomy observation, and it will also be useful for our ionospheric scintillation work too. And while the data system is working fine, we haven't yet written the software to convert this new visibility data into an online image. Yes, we'll get there, but it is going to take a little while.

So, given that we switched on the new correlator mode on 09-Jul-2013 at 23:00 UTC, the above image is the most recent processed image we have.

Updates to follow soon!

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