beamModelTester: Software framework for testing radio telescope beams
Journal article, 2019
The flux, polarimetric and spectral response of phased array radio telescopes with no moving parts such as LOFAR is known to vary considerably with orientation of the source to the receivers. Calibration models exist for this dependency such as those that are used in the LOFAR pipeline. Presented here is a system for comparing the predicted outputs from any given model with the results of an observation. In this paper, a sample observation of a bright source, Cassiopeia A, is used to demonstrate the software in operation, by providing an observation and a model of that observation which can be compared with one another. The package presented here is flexible to allow it to be used with other models and sources. The system operates by first calculating the predictions of the model and the results of an observation of linear fluxes and Stokes parameters separately. The model and observed values are then joined using the variables common to both, time and frequency. Normalisation and RFI excision are carried out and the differences between the prediction and the observation are calculated. A wide selection of 2-, 3- and 4-dimensional plots is generated to illustrate the dependence of the model and the observation as well as the difference between them on independent parameters time, frequency, altitude and azimuth. Thus, beamModelTester provides a framework by which it is possible to calibrate and propose refinements to models and to compare models with one another.