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The hydrogen epoch of reionization array dish III: measuring chromaticity of prototype element with reflectometry


Spectral structures due to the instrument response is the current limiting factor for the experiments attempting to detect the redshifted 21 cm signal from the Epoch of Reionization (EoR). Recent advances in the delay spectrum methodology for measuring the redshifted 21 cm EoR power spectrum brought new attention to the impact of an antenna’s frequency response on the viability of making this challenging measurement. The delay spectrum methodology provides a somewhat straightforward relationship between the time-domain response of an instrument that can be directly measured and the power spectrum modes accessible to a 21 cm EoR experiment. In this paper, we derive the explicit relationship between antenna reflection coefficient (S11) measurements made by a Vector Network Analyzer (VNA) and the extent of additional foreground contaminations in delay space. In the light of this mathematical framework, we examine the chromaticity of a prototype antenna element that will constitute the Hydrogen Epoch of Reionization Array (HERA) between 100 and 200 MHz. These reflectometry measurements exhibit additional structures relative to electromagnetic simulations, but we find that even without any further design improvement, such an antenna element will support measuring spatial k modes with line-of-sight components of k∥ > 0.2h Mpc− 1. We also find that when combined with the powerful inverse covariance weighting method used in optimal quadratic estimation of redshifted 21 cm power spectra the HERA prototype elements can successfully measure the power spectrum at spatial modes as low as k∥ > 0.1h Mpc− 1. This work represents a major step toward understanding the HERA antenna element and highlights a straightforward method for characterizing instrument response for future experiments designed to detect the 21 cm EoR power spectrum.

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