Absolute polarization angle calibration using polarized diffuse Galactic emission observed by BICEP

Proceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering (Impact Factor: 0.2). 07/2010; DOI: 10.1117/12.856855
Source: arXiv

ABSTRACT We present a method of cross-calibrating the polarization angle of a polarimeter using BICEP Galactic observations. \bicep\ was a ground based experiment using an array of 49 pairs of polarization sensitive bolometers observing from the geographic South Pole at 100 and 150 GHz. The BICEP polarimeter is calibrated to +/-0.01 in cross-polarization and less than +/-0.7 degrees in absolute polarization orientation. BICEP observed the temperature and polarization of the Galactic plane (R.A= 100 degrees ~ 270 degrees and Dec. = -67 degrees ~ -48 degrees). We show that the statistical error in the 100 GHz BICEP Galaxy map can constrain the polarization angle offset of WMAP Wband to 0.6 degrees +\- 1.4 degrees. The expected 1 sigma errors on the polarization angle cross-calibration for Planck or EPIC are 1.3 degrees and 0.3 degrees at 100 and 150 GHz, respectively. We also discuss the expected improvement of the BICEP Galactic field observations with forthcoming BICEP2 and Keck observations. Comment: 13 pages, 10 figures and 2 tables. To appear in Proceedings of SPIE Astronomical Telescopes and Instrumentation 2010

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    ABSTRACT: Precision measurements of the polarization of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation, especially experiments seeking to detect the odd-parity 'B-modes', have far-reaching implications for cosmology. To detect the B-modes generated during inflation, the flux response and polarization angle of these experiments must be calibrated to exquisite precision. While suitable flux calibration sources abound, polarization angle calibrators are deficient in many respects. Man-made polarized sources are often not located in the antenna's far-field, have spectral properties that are radically different from the CMB's, are cumbersome to implement, and may be inherently unstable over the (long) duration these searches require to detect the faint signature of the inflationary epoch. Astrophysical sources suffer from time, frequency, and spatial variability, are not visible from all CMB observatories, and none are understood with sufficient accuracy to calibrate future CMB polarimeters seeking to probe inflationary energy scales of 10{sup 15} GeV. Both man-made and astrophysical sources require dedicated observations which detract from the amount of integration time usable for detection of the inflationary B-modes. CMB TB and EB modes, expected to identically vanish in the standard cosmological model, can be used to calibrate CMB polarimeters. By enforcing the observed EB and TB power spectra to be consistent with zero, CMB polarimeters can be calibrated to levels not possible with man-made or astrophysical sources. All of this can be accomplished for any polarimeter without any loss of observing time using a calibration source which is spectrally identical to the CMB B-modes.
    The Astrophysical Journal Letters 01/2013; 762(2). · 5.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: (Context.) A number of millimeter and submillimeter facilities with linear polarization observing capabilities have started operating during last years. These facilities, as well as other previous millimeter telescopes and interferometers, require bright and stable linear polarization calibrators to calibrate new instruments and to monitor their instrumental polarization. The current limited number of adequate calibrators implies difficulties in the acquisition of these calibration observations. (Aims.) Looking for additional linear polarization calibrators in the millimeter spectral range, in mid-2006 we started monitoring 3C 286, a standard and highly stable polarization calibrator for radio observations. (Methods.) Here we present the 3 and 1 mm monitoring observations obtained between September 2006 and January 2012 with the XPOL polarimeter on the IRAM 30 m Millimeter Telescope. (Results.) Our observations show that 3C 286 is a bright source of constant total flux with 3 mm flux density S_3mm = (0.91 \pm 0.02) Jy. The 3mm linear polarization degree (p_3mm =[13.5\pm0.3]%) and polarization angle (chi_3mm =[37.3\pm0.8]deg.,expressed in the equatorial coordinate system) are also constant during the time span of our observations. Although with poorer time sampling and signal-to-noise ratio, our 1 mm observations of 3C 286 are also reproduced by a constant source of 1 mm flux density (S_1mm = [0.30 \pm 0.03] Jy), polarization fraction (p_1mm = [14.4 \pm 1.8] %), and polarization angle (chi_1mm = [33.1 \pm 5.7]deg.). (Conclusions.) This, together with the previously known compact structure of 3C 286 -extended by ~3.5" in the sky- allow us to propose 3C 286 as a new calibrator for both single dish and interferometric polarization observations at 3 mm, and possibly at shorter wavelengths.
    Astronomy and Astrophysics 01/2012; · 4.48 Impact Factor

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