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

de Gasperin, F. and Williams, W. L. and Best, P. and Brüggen, M. and Brunetti, G. and Cuciti, V. and Dijkema, T. J. and Hardcastle, M. J. and Norden, M. J. and Offringa, A. and Shimwell, T. and van Weeren, R. and Bomans, D. and Bonafede, A. and Botteon, A. and Callingham, J. R. and Cassano, R. and Chyży, K. T. and Emig, K. L. and Edler, H. and Haverkorn, M. and Heald, G. and Heesen, V. and Iacobelli, M. and Intema, H. T. and Kadler, M. and Małek, K. and Mevius, M. and Miley, G. and Mingo, B. and Morabito, L. K. and Sabater, J. and Morganti, R. and Orrú, E. and Pizzo, R. and Prandoni, I. and Shulevski, A. and Tasse, C. and Vaccari, M. and Zarka, P. and Röttgering, H. (2021) 'The LOFAR LBA Sky Survey: I. Survey description and preliminary data release.', Astronomy & astrophysics., 648 . A104.


Context. The LOw Frequency ARray (LOFAR) is the only radio telescope that is presently capable of high-sensitivity, high-resolution (i.e. < 1 mJy beam−1 and < 15″) observations at ultra-low frequencies (< 100 MHz). To utilise these capabilities, the LOFAR 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 15″ and at a sensitivity of 1 mJy beam−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 47″ with a median noise level of 5 mJy beam−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 mean square (rms) noise of 1 mJy beam−1 and an angular resolution of 15″ 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 redshift galaxies and quasars, the study of the magnetosphere of exoplanets, and the detection of the oldest populations of cosmic-rays in galaxies, clusters of galaxies, as well as those produced by active galactic nuclei.

Item Type:Article
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Publisher statement:F. de Gasperin et al., A&A, vol. 648, A104, 2021, reproduced with permission, © ESO.
Date accepted:08 February 2021
Date deposited:20 August 2021
Date of first online publication:22 April 2021
Date first made open access:20 August 2021

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