Miguel F. Morales

University of Washington Seattle, Seattle, Washington, United States

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Publications (35)161.16 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: An FPGA-based digital-receiver has been developed for a low-frequency imaging radio interferometer, the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA). The MWA, located at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Western Australia, consists of 128 dual-polarized aperture-array elements (tiles) operating between 80 and 300\,MHz, with a total processed bandwidth of 30.72 MHz for each polarization. Radio-frequency signals from the tiles are amplified and band limited using analog signal conditioning units; sampled and channelized by digital-receivers. The signals from eight tiles are processed by a single digital-receiver, thus requiring 16 digital-receivers for the MWA. The main function of the digital-receivers is to digitize the broad-band signals from each tile, channelize them to form the sky-band, and transport it through optical fibers to a centrally located correlator for further processing. The digital-receiver firmware also implements functions to measure the signal power, perform power equalization across the band, detect interference-like events, and invoke diagnostic modes. The digital-receiver is controlled by high-level programs running on a single-board-computer. This paper presents the digital-receiver design, implementation, current status, and plans for future enhancements.
    Experimental Astronomy 02/2015; 39(1). DOI:10.1007/s10686-015-9444-3 · 2.66 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Infrared and radio observations of the Epoch of Reionization promise to revolutionize our understanding of the cosmic dawn, and major efforts with the JWST, MWA and HERA are underway. While measurements of the ionizing sources with infrared telescopes and the effect of these sources on the intergalactic medium with radio telescopes \emph{should} be complementary, to date the wildly disparate angular resolutions and survey speeds have made connecting proposed observations difficult. In this paper we develop a method to bridge the gap between radio and infrared studies. While the radio images may not have the sensitivity and resolution to identify individual bubbles with high fidelity, by leveraging knowledge of the measured power spectrum we are able to separate regions that are likely ionized from largely neutral, providing context for the JWST observations of galaxy counts and properties in each. By providing the ionization context for infrared galaxy observations, this method can significantly enhance the science returns of JWST and other infrared observations.
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    ABSTRACT: We present the results of an approximately 6,100 square degree 104--196MHz radio sky survey performed with the Murchison Widefield Array during instrument commissioning between 2012 September and 2012 December: the Murchison Widefield Array Commissioning Survey (MWACS). The data were taken as meridian drift scans with two different 32-antenna sub-arrays that were available during the commissioning period. The survey covers approximately 20.5 h < Right Ascension (RA) < 8.5 h, -58 deg < Declination (Dec) < -14 deg over three frequency bands centred on 119, 150 and 180 MHz, with image resolutions of 6--3 arcmin. The catalogue has 3-arcmin angular resolution and a typical noise level of 40 mJy/beam, with reduced sensitivity near the field boundaries and bright sources. We describe the data reduction strategy, based upon mosaiced snapshots, flux density calibration and source-finding method. We present a catalogue of flux density and spectral index measurements for 14,110 sources, extracted from the mosaic, 1,247 of which are sub-components of complexes of sources.
    Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia 10/2014; 31. DOI:10.1017/pasa.2014.40 · 2.27 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In order to study the "Cosmic Dawn" and the Epoch of Reionization with 21 cm tomography, we need to statistically separate the cosmological signal from foregrounds known to be orders of magnitude brighter. Over the last few years, we have learned much about the role our telescopes play in creating a putatively foreground-free region called the "EoR window." In this work, we examine how an interferometer's effects can be taken into account in a way that allows for the rigorous estimation of 21 cm power spectra from interferometric maps while mitigating foreground contamination and thus increasing sensitivity. This requires a precise understanding of the statistical relationship between the maps we make and the underlying true sky. While some of these calculations would be computationally infeasible if performed exactly, we explore several well-controlled approximations that make mapmaking and the calculation of map statistics much faster, especially for compact and highly-redundant interferometers designed specifically for 21 cm cosmology. We demonstrate the utility of these methods and the parametrized trade-offs between accuracy and speed using one such telescope, the upcoming Hydrogen Epoch of Reionization Array, as a case study.
    Physical Review D 10/2014; 91(2). DOI:10.1103/PhysRevD.91.023002 · 4.86 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The detection of the Epoch of Reionization (EoR) in the redshifted 21-cm line is a challenging task. Here we formulate the detection of the EoR signal using the drift scan strategy. This method potentially has better instrumental stability as compared to the case where a single patch of sky is tracked. We demonstrate that the correlation time between measured visibilities could extend up to 1-2 hr for an interferometer array such as the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA), which has a wide primary beam. We estimate the EoR power based on cross-correlation of visibilities across time and show that the drift scan strategy is capable of the detection of the EoR signal with comparable/better signal-to-noise as compared to the tracking case. We also estimate the visibility correlation for a set of bright point sources and argue that the statistical inhomogeneity of bright point sources might allow their separation from the EoR signal.
    The Astrophysical Journal 07/2014; 793(1). DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/793/1/28 · 6.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A number of experiments are currently working towards a measurement of the 21 cm signal from the Epoch of Reionization. Whether or not these experiments deliver a detection of cosmological emission, their limited sensitivity will prevent them from providing detailed information about the astrophysics of reionization. In this work, we consider what types of measurements will be enabled by a next-generation of larger 21 cm EoR telescopes. To calculate the type of constraints that will be possible with such arrays, we use simple models for the instrument, foreground emission, and the reionization history. We consider an instrument modeled after the $\sim 0.1 \rm{km}^2$ collecting area Hydrogen Epoch of Reionization Array (HERA) concept design, and parameterize the uncertainties with regard to foreground emission by considering different limits to the recently described "wedge" footprint in $k$-space. Uncertainties in the reionization history are accounted for using a series of simulations which vary the ionizing efficiency and minimum virial temperature of the galaxies responsible for reionization, as well as the mean free path of ionizing photons through the IGM. Given various combinations of models, we consider the significance of the possible power spectrum detections, the ability to trace the power spectrum evolution versus redshift, the detectability of salient power spectrum features, and the achievable level of quantitative constraints on astrophysical parameters. Ultimately, we find that $0.1 \rm{km}^2$ of collecting area is enough to ensure a very high significance ($\gtrsim30\sigma$) detection of the reionization power spectrum in even the most pessimistic scenarios. This sensitivity should allow for meaningful constraints on the reionization history and astrophysical parameters, especially if foreground subtraction techniques can be improved and successfully implemented.
    The Astrophysical Journal 10/2013; 782(2). DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/782/2/66 · 6.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In this paper we explore for the first time the relative magnitudes of three fundamental sources of uncertainty, namely, foreground contamination, thermal noise and sample variance in detecting the HI power spectrum from the Epoch of Reionization (EoR). We derive limits on the sensitivity of a Fourier synthesis telescope to detect EoR based on its array configuration and a statistical representation of images made by the instrument. We use the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) configuration for our studies. Using a unified framework for estimating signal and noise components in the HI power spectrum, we derive an expression for and estimate the contamination from extragalactic point-like sources in three-dimensional k-space. Sensitivity for EoR HI power spectrum detection is estimated for different observing modes with MWA. With 1000 hours of observing on a single field using the 128-tile MWA, EoR detection is feasible (S/N > 1 for $k\lesssim 0.8$ Mpc$^{-1}$). Bandpass shaping and refinements to the EoR window are found to be effective in containing foreground contamination, which makes the instrument tolerant to imaging errors. We find that for a given observing time, observing many independent fields of view does not offer an advantage over a single field observation when thermal noise dominates over other uncertainties in the derived power spectrum.
    The Astrophysical Journal 08/2013; 776(1). DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/776/1/6 · 6.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present a technique for bridging the gap between idealized inverse covariance weighted quadratic estimation of 21 cm power spectra and the real-world challenges presented universally by interferometric observation. By carefully evaluating various estimators and adapting our techniques for large but incomplete data sets, we develop an optimal power spectrum estimation framework that preserves the so-called "EoR window" and keeps track of estimator errors and covariances. We apply our method to observations from the 32-tile prototype of the Murchinson Widefield Array to demonstrate the importance of a judicious analysis technique. Lastly, we apply our method to investigate the dependence of the clean EoR window on frequency--especially the frequency dependence of the so-called "wedge" feature--and establish upper limits on the power spectrum from z=6.2 to z=11.7. Our lowest limit is Delta(k) < 0.3 Kelvin at 95% confidence at a comoving scale k = 0.046 Mpc^-1 and z = 9.5.
    Physical Review D 04/2013; 89(2). DOI:10.1103/PhysRevD.89.023002 · 4.86 Impact Factor
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    Bryna J. Hazelton · Miguel F. Morales · Ian S. Sullivan
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    ABSTRACT: The primary challenge for experiments measuring the neutral hydrogen power spectrum from the Epoch of Reionization (EoR) are mode-mixing effects where foregrounds from very bright astrophysical sources interact with the instrument to contaminate the EoR signal. In this paper we identify a new type of mode-mixing that occurs when measurements from non-identical baselines are combined for increased power spectrum sensitivity. This multi-baseline effect dominates the mode-mixing power in our simulations and can contaminate the EoR window, an area in Fourier space previously identified to be relatively free of foreground power.
    The Astrophysical Journal 01/2013; 770(2). DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/770/2/156 · 6.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Significant new opportunities for astrophysics and cosmology have been identified at low radio frequencies. The Murchison Widefield Array is the first telescope in the Southern Hemisphere designed specifically to explore the low-frequency astronomical sky between 80 and 300 MHz with arcminute angular resolution and high survey efficiency. The telescope will enable new advances along four key science themes, including searching for redshifted 21 cm emission from the epoch of reionisation in the early Universe; Galactic and extragalactic all-sky southern hemisphere surveys; time-domain astrophysics; and solar, heliospheric, and ionospheric science and space weather. The Murchison Widefield Array is located in Western Australia at the site of the planned Square Kilometre Array (SKA) low-band telescope and is the only low-frequency SKA precursor facility. In this paper, we review the performance properties of the Murchison Widefield Array and describe its primary scientific objectives.
    Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia 12/2012; 30. DOI:10.1017/pas.2013.009 · 2.27 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: This work describes a new instrument optimized for a detection of the neutral hydrogen 21cm power spectrum between redshifts of 0.5-1.5: the Baryon Acoustic Oscillation Broadband and Broad-beam (BAOBAB) Array. BAOBAB will build on the efforts of a first generation of 21cm experiments which are targeting a detection of the signal from the Epoch of Reionization at z ~ 10. At z ~ 1, the emission from neutral hydrogen in self-shielded overdense halos also presents an accessible signal, since the dominant, synchrotron foreground emission is considerably fainter than at redshift 10. The principle science driver for these observations are Baryon Acoustic Oscillations in the matter power spectrum which have the potential to act as a standard ruler and constrain the nature of dark energy. BAOBAB will fully correlate dual-polarization antenna tiles over the 600-900MHz band with a frequency resolution of 300 kHz and a system temperature of 50K. The number of antennas will grow in staged deployments, and reconfigurations of the array will allow for both traditional imaging and high power spectrum sensitivity operations. We present calculations of the power spectrum sensitivity for various array sizes, with a 35-element array measuring the cosmic neutral hydrogen fraction as a function of redshift, and a 132-element system detecting the BAO features in the power spectrum, yielding a 1.8% error on the z ~ 1 distance scale, and, in turn, significant improvements to constraints on the dark energy equation of state over an unprecedented range of redshifts from ~0.5-1.5.
    The Astronomical Journal 10/2012; 145(3). DOI:10.1088/0004-6256/145/3/65 · 4.05 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) is a new low-frequency, wide field-of-view radio interferometer under development at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Western Australia. We have used a 32-element MWA prototype interferometer (MWA-32T) to observe two 50-degree diameter fields in the southern sky in the 110 MHz to 200 MHz band in order to evaluate the performance of the MWA-32T, to develop techniques for epoch of reionization experiments, and to make measurements of astronomical foregrounds. We developed a calibration and imaging pipeline for the MWA-32T, and used it to produce ~15' angular resolution maps of the two fields. We perform a blind source extraction using these confusion-limited images, and detect 655 sources at high significance with an additional 871 lower significance source candidates. We compare these sources with existing low-frequency radio surveys in order to assess the MWA-32T system performance, wide field analysis algorithms, and catalog quality. Our source catalog is found to agree well with existing low-frequency surveys in these regions of the sky and with statistical distributions of point sources derived from Northern Hemisphere surveys; it represents one of the deepest surveys to date of this sky field in the 110 MHz to 200 MHz band.
    The Astrophysical Journal 03/2012; 755(1). DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/755/1/47 · 6.28 Impact Factor
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    Miguel F. Morales · Bryna Hazelton · Ian Sullivan · Adam Beardsley
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    ABSTRACT: Contamination from instrumental effects interacting with bright astrophysical sources is the primary impediment to measuring Epoch of Reionization and BAO 21 cm power spectra---an effect called mode-mixing. In this paper we identify four fundamental power spectrum shapes produced by mode-mixing that will affect all upcoming observations. We are able, for the first time, to explain the wedge-like structure seen in advanced simulations and to forecast the shape of an 'EoR window' that is mostly free of contamination. Understanding the origins of these contaminations also enables us to identify calibration and foreground subtraction errors below the imaging limit, providing a powerful new tool for precision observations.
    The Astrophysical Journal 02/2012; 752(2). DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/752/2/137 · 6.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present the first spectroscopic images of solar radio transients from the prototype for the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA), observed on 2010 March 27. Our observations span the instantaneous frequency band 170.9-201.6 MHz. Though our observing period is characterized as a period of `low' to `medium' activity, one broadband emission feature and numerous short-lived, narrowband, non-thermal emission features are evident. Our data represent a significant advance in low radio frequency solar imaging, enabling us to follow the spatial, spectral, and temporal evolution of events simultaneously and in unprecedented detail. The rich variety of features seen here reaffirms the coronal diagnostic capability of low radio frequency emission and provides an early glimpse of the nature of radio observations that will become available as the next generation of low frequency radio interferometers come on-line over the next few years.
    The Astrophysical Journal Letters 01/2011; 728(2). DOI:10.1088/2041-8205/728/2/L27 · 5.60 Impact Factor
  • Miguel F. Morales · J. Stuart B. Wyithe
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    ABSTRACT: Measurement of the spatial distribution of neutral hydrogen via the redshifted 21-cm line promises to revolutionize our knowledge of the epoch of reionization and the first galaxies, and may provide a powerful new tool for observational cosmology from redshifts 1
    Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics 08/2010; 48:127-171. DOI:10.1146/annurev-astro-081309-130936 · 24.04 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The Murchison Widefield Array is a dipole-based aperture array synthesis telescope designed to operate in the 80-300 MHz frequency range. It is capable of a wide range of science investigations but is initially focused on three key science projects: detection and characterization of three-dimensional brightness temperature fluctuations in the 21 cm line of neutral hydrogen during the epoch of reionization (EoR) at redshifts from six to ten; solar imaging and remote sensing of the inner heliosphere via propagation effects on signals from distant background sources; and high-sensitivity exploration of the variable radio sky. The array design features 8192 dual-polarization broadband active dipoles, arranged into 512 ldquotilesrdquo comprising 16 dipoles each. The tiles are quasi-randomly distributed over an aperture 1.5 km in diameter, with a small number of outliers extending to 3 km. All tile-tile baselines are correlated in custom field-programmable gate array based hardware, yielding a Nyquist-sampled instantaneous monochromatic uv coverage and unprecedented point spread function quality. The correlated data are calibrated in real time using novel position-dependent self-calibration algorithms. The array is located in the Murchison region of outback Western Australia. This region is characterized by extremely low population density and a superbly radio-quiet environment, allowing full exploitation of the instrumental capabilities.
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    Michael S. Matejek · Miguel F. Morales
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    ABSTRACT: In radio astronomy, the correlator measures intensity in visibility space. In addition, the EoR power spectrum measured by an experiment such as the MWA is constructed in visibility space. Thus, correcting for the ionosphere in the uv-plane instead of real space could potentially save computation. In this paper, we study this technique. The mathematical formula for obtaining the unperturbed data from the ionospherically reflected data is non-local in the uv-plane. Moreover, an analytic solution for the unperturbed intensity may only be obtained for a limited number of expansions of the ionospheric perturbations. We numerically study one of these expansions (with perturbations as sinusoidal modes). Obtaining an analytic solution for this expansion required a Taylor expansion, and we investigate the optimal order of this expansion. We also propose a number of potential computation saving techniques, and evaluate their pros and cons. Comment: 20 pages, 19 figures and tables
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    Miguel F. Morales · J. Stuart B. Wyithe
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    ABSTRACT: Measurement of the spatial distribution of neutral hydrogen via the redshifted 21 cm line promises to revolutionize our knowledge of the epoch of reionization and the first galaxies, and may provide a powerful new tool for observational cosmology from redshifts 1<z<4 . In this review we discuss recent advances in our theoretical understanding of the epoch of reionization (EoR), the application of 21 cm tomography to cosmology and measurements of the dark energy equation of state after reionization, and the instrumentation and observational techniques shared by 21 cm EoR and post reionization cosmology machines. We place particular emphasis on the expected signal and observational capabilities of first generation 21 cm fluctuation instruments. Comment: Invited review for Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics (2010 volume)
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    ABSTRACT: The Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) is a dipole-based aperture array synthesis telescope designed to operate in the 80-300 MHz frequency range. It is capable of a wide range of science investigations, but is initially focused on three key science projects. These are detection and characterization of 3-dimensional brightness temperature fluctuations in the 21cm line of neutral hydrogen during the Epoch of Reionization (EoR) at redshifts from 6 to 10, solar imaging and remote sensing of the inner heliosphere via propagation effects on signals from distant background sources,and high-sensitivity exploration of the variable radio sky. The array design features 8192 dual-polarization broad-band active dipoles, arranged into 512 tiles comprising 16 dipoles each. The tiles are quasi-randomly distributed over an aperture 1.5km in diameter, with a small number of outliers extending to 3km. All tile-tile baselines are correlated in custom FPGA-based hardware, yielding a Nyquist-sampled instantaneous monochromatic uv coverage and unprecedented point spread function (PSF) quality. The correlated data are calibrated in real time using novel position-dependent self-calibration algorithms. The array is located in the Murchison region of outback Western Australia. This region is characterized by extremely low population density and a superbly radio-quiet environment,allowing full exploitation of the instrumental capabilities.
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    Miguel F. Morales
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    ABSTRACT: Proposed 21 cm cosmology observatories for studying the epoch of reionization (z ~6-15) and dark energy (z ~0-6) envision compact arrays with tens of thousands of antenna elements. Fully correlating this many elements is computationally expensive using traditional XF or FX correlators, and has led some groups to reconsider direct imaging/FFT correlators. In this paper we develop a variation of the direct imaging correlator we call the MOFF correlator. The MOFF correlator shares the computational advantages of a direct imaging correlator, while avoiding a number of its shortcomings. In particular the MOFF correlator makes no constraints on the antenna arrangement or type, provides a fully calibrated output image including widefield polarimetry and non-coplanar baseline effects, and can be orders-of-magnitude more efficient than XF or FX correlators for compact radio cosmology arrays.
    Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific 12/2008; DOI:10.1086/663092 · 3.23 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

794 Citations
161.16 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2008–2014
    • University of Washington Seattle
      • Department of Physics
      Seattle, Washington, United States
  • 2003–2007
    • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
      • Department of Physics
      Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
    • University of California, Santa Cruz
      • Institute for Particle Physics
      Santa Cruz, California, United States
  • 2005–2006
    • Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
      Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States