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"Super-resolution" Images for Radio astronomy

​A team of researchers from IRFU has developed a very effective image reconstruction technique for radio astronomy. It will benefit the future international network Square Kilometer Array (SKA) in particular, whose construction will start in 2018, and is also expected to find applications in medical imaging and Earth observation.

Published on 9 January 2017

In radio astronomy, not only are the images degraded by the spontaneous fluctuations of the atmospheric column targeted, like in the visible range, but they are also partial, since they are "sampled". This is why they need to be corrected and "reconstructed".

A team from IRFU participated in improving this operation performed from interferometric figures. The operation consists of "subtracting" the deformation due to the radio telescope by a mathematical operation called "deconvolution". To do so, the documented sources of the sky are modeled by a set of mathematical functions and the deconvolution is applied. By extending this group of functions, the scientists obtained images with doubled angular resolution and sensitivity.

This new algorithm was applied to observations of the Cygnus A galaxy by the European radio telescope network LOFAR (Low Frequency Array). It has generated very promising "super-resolved" images for the SKA project, which will endeavor to map the sky after 2020, hundreds of times faster than today.

This work was carried out in collaboration with researchers from Labex UnivEarthS.

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