ALMA interferometric data preprocessing for image synthesis

With the operation of the ALMA radio-interferometric observatory, a large amount of preprocessing will be required. The ALMA instrument observatory has already begun operations with reduced capabilities, and will reach completion by 2013, recording several GB per day in Fourier space radio signals over 60 antennas, in a 16 km wide surface.

ALMA is the largest steerable telescope on earth. It is the result of a joint Asian-American-European effort with no precedent in history. In 2011, the first stage of the project will deliver data from today’s installed commissioned capabilities with about 20 antennas. These data will require substantial post-processing for the construction of sky images.

The ALMA data sparsely sample the Fourier transform of the sky images; substantial statistical analysis is required to invert the ALMA data into an image of the sky. The difficulties involved in this post-processing include the need for algorithmic research in image synthesis, as well as practical aspects of data handling in the C language. A Bayesian image synthesis pipeline would extract the full potential of the ALMA data.

This proposal is part of the ALMA-CONICYT Project “Bayesian image synthesis for ALMA and VLTI” directed by Dr. Simon Cassasus of the Department of Astronomy in collaboration with the Center for Mathematical Modeling (CMM) of the University of Chile.