The Impact of Point-Source Subtraction Residuals on 21 cm Epoch of Reionization Estimation
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Precise subtraction of foreground sources is crucial for detecting and estimating 21 cm H I signals from the Epoch of Reionization (EoR). We quantify how imperfect point-source subtraction due to limitations of the measurement data set yields structured residual signal in the data set. We use the Cramer-Rao lower bound, as a metric for quantifying the precision with which a parameter may be measured, to estimate the residual signal in a visibility data set due to imperfect point-source subtraction. We then propagate these residuals into two metrics of interest for 21 cm EoR experiments—the angular power spectrum and two-dimensional power spectrum—using a combination of full analytic covariant derivation, analytic variant derivation, and covariant Monte Carlo simulations. This methodology differs from previous work in two ways: (1) it uses information theory to set the point-source position error, rather than assuming a global rms error, and (2) it describes a method for propagating the errors analytically, thereby obtaining the full correlation structure of the power spectra. The methods are applied to two upcoming low-frequency instruments that are proposing to perform statistical EoR experiments: the Murchison Widefield Array and the Precision Array for Probing the Epoch of Reionization. In addition to the actual antenna configurations, we apply the methods to minimally redundant and maximally redundant configurations.We find that for peeling sources above 1 Jy, the amplitude of the residual signal, and its variance, will be smaller than the contribution from thermal noise for the observing parameters proposed for upcoming EoR experiments, and that optimal subtraction of bright point sources will not be a limiting factor for EoR parameter estimation. We then use the formalism to provide an ab initio analytic derivation motivating the ‘wedge’ feature in the two-dimensional power spectrum, complementing previous discussion in the literature.
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