In this section we will develop a mathematical formulation useful for polarimetric interferometry. The theoretical framework is the van Cittert-Zernike theorem, which was discussed in chapter 2 in the context of the reconstruction of the Stokes I parameter of the source. However, as can be trivially verified, the theorem holds good for any of the Stokes parameters. So, apart from the issues of spurious polarization produced by propagation or instrumental effects, making maps of the Q, U, and V Stokes parameters is in principle15.8 identical to making a Stokes I map.
Not surprisingly, matrix notation leads to an elegant formulation for polarimetric interferometry15.9. Let us begin by defining a coherency vector,
The Stokes vector can be obtained by multiplying the coherency
vector with the Stokes matrix, (S). In a linear polarized co-ordinate
system the components are:
The outer product has the following associative property, viz. for
matrices, A,B, C, and D,
|=||the voltage vector at the terminals of antenna|
|=||the complex gain of the receivers of antenna|
|=||the voltage beam matrix for antenna|
|=||the parallactic angle matrix for antenna|
|=||the Faraday rotation matrix for antenna|
|=||the electric field vector at antenna|
|=||the Jones matrix for antenna|
The Jones matrix has been so called because of its analogy with the Jones matrix in optical polarimetry. All of these matrices are . In the linear polarized co-ordinate system. For example, we have:
The Jones matrix in polarimetric interferometry plays the same role as the complex gain does in scalar interferometry. Consequently one could conceive of schemes for self-calibration, since for an array with a large enough number of antennas sufficient number of closure constraints are available. However, since astrophysical sources are usually only weakly polarized, the signal to noise ratio in the cross-hand correlation products is often too low to make use of these closure constraints.
In scalar interferometry, phase fluctations caused by the atmosphere and/or ionosphere were lumped together with the instrumental gain fluctuations. In the vector formulation however, this is strictly speaking not possible, since these corrections occur at different points along the signal path, (see equations (15.3.13)) and matrices in equations (15.3.14) do not in general commute. However, for most existing radio telescopes, and for sources small compared to the primary beam, the matrices in equations (15.3.14) (apart from the Faraday rotation and Parallactic angle matrices) differ from the identity matrix only to first order (i.e. the off diagonal terms are small compared to the diagonal terms, and the diagonal terms are equal to one another to zeroth order), and consequently these matrices commute to first order. To first order hence, it is correct to lump the phase differences accumulated at different points along the signal path into the receiver gain. Alternatively, if we make the (reasonable) assumption that the complex atennuation (i.e. any absorption and phase fluctuation) produced by the atmosphere is identical for both polarizations, then it can be modeled as a constant times the identity matrix. Since the identity matrix commutes with all the other matrices, this factor can be absorbed in the receiver gain matrix, exactly as was done when dealing with interferometry of scalar fields. This is the reason why no separate matrix was introduced in equation (15.3.13) to account for atmospheric phase and amplitude fluctuations.
The matrix B in this formulation also deserves some attention. It simply contains the information on the relation between the electric field falling on the source and the voltage generated at the antenna terminals. It is an extension of the voltage beam in scalar field theory, and each element in the matrix depends on the sky co-ordinates . As described above in section( 15.2), it is traditional to decompose it into a part which does not depend on , which is called the leakage (or in the matrix formulation, the leakage matrix ``D''), and a part which depends on . Provided that the leakage terms are small compared to the parallel hand antenna voltage gain, it can be shown that this decomposition is unique to first order.
In terms of the Jones matrix, the measured visibility on a single
baseline for a point at the phase center can be written as:
If the point source were not at the phase center, then the visibility
phase is not zero, and in equation (15.3.15), one would have
to pre-multipy the Jones matrices with a matrix containing the Fourier
To get the visibility for an extended incoherent source, one would have to integrate over all , thus recovering the vector formulation of the van Cittert-Zernike theorem. In order to invert this equation, it is necessary not only to do the inverse fourier transform, but also to correct for the various corruptions introduced, i.e. the data has to be calibrated. The rest of this chapter discusses ways in which this polarization calibration can be done.