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  1. Abstract

    This paper presents the design and deployment of the Hydrogen Epoch of Reionization Array (HERA) phase II system. HERA is designed as a staged experiment targeting 21 cm emission measurements of the Epoch of Reionization. First results from the phase I array are published as of early 2022, and deployment of the phase II system is nearing completion. We describe the design of the phase II system and discuss progress on commissioning and future upgrades. As HERA is a designated Square Kilometre Array pathfinder instrument, we also show a number of “case studies” that investigate systematics seen while commissioning the phase II system, which may be of use in the design and operation of future arrays. Common pathologies are likely to manifest in similar ways across instruments, and many of these sources of contamination can be mitigated once the source is identified.

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  2. ABSTRACT The recent demonstration of a real-time direct imaging radio interferometry correlator represents a new capability in radio astronomy. However, wide-field imaging with this method is challenging since wide-field effects and array non-coplanarity degrade image quality if not compensated for. Here, we present an alternative direct imaging correlation strategy using a direct Fourier transform (DFT), modelled as a linear operator facilitating a matrix multiplication between the DFT matrix and a vector of the electric fields from each antenna. This offers perfect correction for wide field and non-coplanarity effects. When implemented with data from the Long Wavelength Array (LWA), it offers comparable computational performance to previously demonstrated direct imaging techniques, despite having a theoretically higher floating point cost. It also has additional benefits, such as imaging sparse arrays and control over which sky coordinates are imaged, allowing variable pixel placement across an image. It is in practice a highly flexible and efficient method of direct radio imaging when implemented on suitable arrays. A functioning electric field direct imaging architecture using the DFT is presented, alongside an exploration of techniques for wide-field imaging similar to those in visibility-based imaging, and an explanation of why they do not fit well to imaging directly with the digitized electric field data. The DFT imaging method is demonstrated on real data from the LWA telescope, alongside a detailed performance analysis, as well as an exploration of its applicability to other arrays. 
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    To mitigate the effects of Radio Frequency Interference (RFI) on the data analysis pipelines of 21 cm interferometric instruments, numerous inpaint techniques have been developed. In this paper, we examine the qualitative and quantitative errors introduced into the visibilities and power spectrum due to inpainting. We perform our analysis on simulated data as well as real data from the Hydrogen Epoch of Reionization Array (HERA) Phase 1 upper limits. We also introduce a convolutional neural network that is capable of inpainting RFI corrupted data. We train our network on simulated data and show that our network is capable of inpainting real data without requiring to be retrained. We find that techniques that incorporate high wavenumbers in delay space in their modelling are best suited for inpainting over narrowband RFI. We show that with our fiducial parameters discrete prolate spheroidal sequences (dpss) and clean provide the best performance for intermittent RFI while Gaussian progress regression (gpr) and least squares spectral analysis (lssa) provide the best performance for larger RFI gaps. However, we caution that these qualitative conclusions are sensitive to the chosen hyperparameters of each inpainting technique. We show that all inpainting techniques reliably reproduce foreground dominated modes in the power spectrum. Since the inpainting techniques should not be capable of reproducing noise realizations, we find that the largest errors occur in the noise dominated delay modes. We show that as the noise level of the data comes down, clean and dpss are most capable of reproducing the fine frequency structure in the visibilities.

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    Combining the visibilities measured by an interferometer to form a cosmological power spectrum is a complicated process. In a delay-based analysis, the mapping between instrumental and cosmological space is not a one-to-one relation. Instead, neighbouring modes contribute to the power measured at one point, with their respective contributions encoded in the window functions. To better understand the power measured by an interferometer, we assess the impact of instrument characteristics and analysis choices on these window functions. Focusing on the Hydrogen Epoch of Reionization Array (HERA) as a case study, we find that long-baseline observations correspond to enhanced low-k tails of the window functions, which facilitate foreground leakage, whilst an informed choice of bandwidth and frequency taper can reduce said tails. With simple test cases and realistic simulations, we show that, apart from tracing mode mixing, the window functions help accurately reconstruct the power spectrum estimator of simulated visibilities. The window functions depend strongly on the beam chromaticity and less on its spatial structure – a Gaussian approximation, ignoring side lobes, is sufficient. Finally, we investigate the potential of asymmetric window functions, down-weighting the contribution of low-k power to avoid foreground leakage. The window functions presented here correspond to the latest HERA upper limits for the full Phase I data. They allow an accurate reconstruction of the power spectrum measured by the instrument and will be used in future analyses to confront theoretical models and data directly in cylindrical space.

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    Radio interferometers aiming to measure the power spectrum of the redshifted 21 cm line during the Epoch of Reionization (EoR) need to achieve an unprecedented dynamic range to separate the weak signal from overwhelming foreground emissions. Calibration inaccuracies can compromise the sensitivity of these measurements to the effect that a detection of the EoR is precluded. An alternative to standard analysis techniques makes use of the closure phase, which allows one to bypass antenna-based direction-independent calibration. Similarly to standard approaches, we use a delay spectrum technique to search for the EoR signal. Using 94 nights of data observed with Phase I of the Hydrogen Epoch of Reionization Array (HERA), we place approximate constraints on the 21 cm power spectrum at z = 7.7. We find at 95 per cent confidence that the 21 cm EoR brightness temperature is ≤(372)2 ‘pseudo’ mK2 at 1.14 ‘pseudo’ h Mpc−1, where the ‘pseudo’ emphasizes that these limits are to be interpreted as approximations to the actual distance scales and brightness temperatures. Using a fiducial EoR model, we demonstrate the feasibility of detecting the EoR with the full array. Compared to standard methods, the closure phase processing is relatively simple, thereby providing an important independent check on results derived using visibility intensities, or related.

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    We present a Bayesian jackknife test for assessing the probability that a data set contains biased subsets, and, if so, which of the subsets are likely to be biased. The test can be used to assess the presence and likely source of statistical tension between different measurements of the same quantities in an automated manner. Under certain broadly applicable assumptions, the test is analytically tractable. We also provide an open-source code, chiborg, that performs both analytic and numerical computations of the test on general Gaussian-distributed data. After exploring the information theoretical aspects of the test and its performance with an array of simulations, we apply it to data from the Hydrogen Epoch of Reionization Array (HERA) to assess whether different sub-seasons of observing can justifiably be combined to produce a deeper 21 cm power spectrum upper limit. We find that, with a handful of exceptions, the HERA data in question are statistically consistent and this decision is justified. We conclude by pointing out the wide applicability of this test, including to CMB experiments and the H0 tension.

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  7. Abstract

    We report the most sensitive upper limits to date on the 21 cm epoch of reionization power spectrum using 94 nights of observing with Phase I of the Hydrogen Epoch of Reionization Array (HERA). Using similar analysis techniques as in previously reported limits, we find at 95% confidence that Δ2(k= 0.34hMpc−1) ≤ 457 mK2atz= 7.9 and that Δ2(k= 0.36hMpc−1) ≤ 3496 mK2atz= 10.4, an improvement by a factor of 2.1 and 2.6, respectively. These limits are mostly consistent with thermal noise over a wide range ofkafter our data quality cuts, despite performing a relatively conservative analysis designed to minimize signal loss. Our results are validated with both statistical tests on the data and end-to-end pipeline simulations. We also report updated constraints on the astrophysics of reionization and the cosmic dawn. Using multiple independent modeling and inference techniques previously employed by HERA Collaboration, we find that the intergalactic medium must have been heated above the adiabatic cooling limit at least as early asz= 10.4, ruling out a broad set of so-called “cold reionization” scenarios. If this heating is due to high-mass X-ray binaries during the cosmic dawn, as is generally believed, our result’s 99% credible interval excludes the local relationship between soft X-ray luminosity and star formation and thus requires heating driven by evolved low-metallicity stars.

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  8. Abstract We report upper limits on the Epoch of Reionization 21 cm power spectrum at redshifts 7.9 and 10.4 with 18 nights of data (∼36 hr of integration) from Phase I of the Hydrogen Epoch of Reionization Array (HERA). The Phase I data show evidence for systematics that can be largely suppressed with systematic models down to a dynamic range of ∼10 9 with respect to the peak foreground power. This yields a 95% confidence upper limit on the 21 cm power spectrum of Δ 21 2 ≤ ( 30.76 ) 2 mK 2 at k = 0.192 h Mpc −1 at z = 7.9, and also Δ 21 2 ≤ ( 95.74 ) 2 mK 2 at k = 0.256 h Mpc −1 at z = 10.4. At z = 7.9, these limits are the most sensitive to date by over an order of magnitude. While we find evidence for residual systematics at low line-of-sight Fourier k ∥ modes, at high k ∥ modes we find our data to be largely consistent with thermal noise, an indicator that the system could benefit from deeper integrations. The observed systematics could be due to radio frequency interference, cable subreflections, or residual instrumental cross-coupling, and warrant further study. This analysis emphasizes algorithms that have minimal inherent signal loss, although we do perform a careful accounting in a companion paper of the small forms of loss or bias associated with the pipeline. Overall, these results are a promising first step in the development of a tuned, instrument-specific analysis pipeline for HERA, particularly as Phase II construction is completed en route to reaching the full sensitivity of the experiment. 
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  9. Abstract We describe the validation of the HERA Phase I software pipeline by a series of modular tests, building up to an end-to-end simulation. The philosophy of this approach is to validate the software and algorithms used in the Phase I upper-limit analysis on wholly synthetic data satisfying the assumptions of that analysis, not addressing whether the actual data meet these assumptions. We discuss the organization of this validation approach, the specific modular tests performed, and the construction of the end-to-end simulations. We explicitly discuss the limitations in scope of the current simulation effort. With mock visibility data generated from a known analytic power spectrum and a wide range of realistic instrumental effects and foregrounds, we demonstrate that the current pipeline produces power spectrum estimates that are consistent with known analytic inputs to within thermal noise levels (at the 2 σ level) for k > 0.2 h Mpc −1 for both bands and fields considered. Our input spectrum is intentionally amplified to enable a strong “detection” at k ∼ 0.2 h Mpc −1 —at the level of ∼25 σ —with foregrounds dominating on larger scales and thermal noise dominating at smaller scales. Our pipeline is able to detect this amplified input signal after suppressing foregrounds with a dynamic range (foreground to noise ratio) of ≳10 7 . Our validation test suite uncovered several sources of scale-independent signal loss throughout the pipeline, whose amplitude is well-characterized and accounted for in the final estimates. We conclude with a discussion of the steps required for the next round of data analysis. 
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