Astronomy & Telescopes

Reduced-resolution Beamforming: Lowering The Computational Cost For Pulsar And Technosignature Surveys

By Keith Cowing
Status Report
February 21, 2024
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Reduced-resolution Beamforming: Lowering The Computational Cost For Pulsar And Technosignature Surveys
Sensitivity analysis for reduced resolution beamforming applied to MeerKAT, the MWA (compact configuration) and the EDA2. The top panels show antenna location, and the middle panels show histograms of baseline lengths for each telescope. The bottom panel shows the fractional sensitivity for reduced resolution beamforming, as a function of maximum baseline length (black lines). The minimum sensitivity is equivalent to incoherent beamforming, and maximum sensitivity is equivalent to standard beamforming. The number of beams required to cover each telescope’s field of view scales with d 2 max (dashed red lines). — astro-ph.IM

In radio astronomy, the science output of a telescope is often limited by computational resources. This is especially true for transient and technosignature surveys that need to search high-resolution data across a large parameter space.

The tremendous data volumes produced by modern radio array telescopes exacerbate these processing challenges. Here, we introduce a ‘reduced-resolution’ beamforming approach to alleviate downstream processing requirements. Our approach, based on post-correlation beamforming, allows sensitivity to be traded against the number of beams needed to cover a given survey area.

Using the MeerKAT and Murchison Widefield Array telescopes as examples, we show that survey speed can be vastly increased, and downstream signal processing requirements vastly decreased, if a moderate sacrifice to sensitivity is allowed. We show the reduced-resolution beamforming technique is intimately related to standard techniques used in synthesis imaging.

We suggest that reduced-resolution beamforming should be considered to ease data processing challenges in current and planned searches; further, reduced-resolution beamforming may provide a path toward computationally-expensive search strategies previously considered infeasible.

Danny C. Price

Comments: 11 pages, 5 figures. Submitted to PASA
Subjects: Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (astro-ph.IM); High Energy Astrophysical Phenomena (astro-ph.HE)
Cite as: arXiv:2402.12723 [astro-ph.IM] (or arXiv:2402.12723v1 [astro-ph.IM] for this version)
Submission history
From: Danny Price
[v1] Tue, 20 Feb 2024 05:15:22 UTC (868 KB)
Astrobiology, SETI,

Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) 🖖🏻