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A study of radio frequency interference for the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) Pathfinder Höfer, Carolin


The following document describes pursued studies to understand the properties of radio frequency interference (RFI) which affects the quality of the data of the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment Pathfinder at the Dominion Radio Astronomy Observatory in Penticton, British Columbia. The Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment is a challenging project aimed to trace large scale structure by observing the 21cm emission line of neutral hydrogen in the frequency spectrum 400-800MHz to research the nature of Dark Energy. RFI is terrestrial signal caused by radio bands, TV stations, satellites etc. that produces unwanted disturbances in the frequency spectrum which adds power to the data. It represents a challenge to measure faint sources in the sky and we seek ways to identify it based on its statistical properties such as non-Gaussianity. We have designed algorithms that aim to identify and flag RFI in our data. Digital TV bands cause permanent corruption in the affected frequency bins and account for a 19% loss of bandwidth. The 5 sigma threshold cut searches for time-varying RFI in each frequency bin. Outliers above 5 standard deviations are iteratively flagged but not all of the occurring RFI were recognized due to non-Gaussianity. The median absolute deviation cut is a robust statistical method that uses sky data only. Identification of short-lived and long-lived RFI occurrences originating mainly from the sky has been successful. A correlation coefficient algorithm uses a combination of a reference RFI antenna sensitive to the horizon and a sky antenna to find correlated signals that are significantly above expected thermal noise of the radiometer while disregarding correlation due to sky signal. RFI at the horizon is well recognized by this method.

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