New Plateau de Bure correlator WideX now operating

April 20, 2010

We are pleased to announce that the new correlator for the Plateau de Bure Interferometer, WideX, has successfully been installed during the last few months, and is now fully operational. This new correlator, by quadrupling the available bandwidth, provides a two-fold increase in both the continuum sensitivity and the instantaneous spectral coverage.

Following the installation of a first WideX unit in December 2009 and first astronomical fringes (see related news), the remaining three units were shipped to the Plateau de Bure in February 2010, where they were installed and tested by the IRAM Backend group. Full integration in the system followed, including all software parts (correlator control, data acquisition and data reduction).

Widex spectrum of the hot molecular core in the high-mass star forming region G29.96-0.02, obtained between 90.3 and 93.9 GHz. The figure is courtesy of F. Fontani

The commissioning done by a team of IRAM astronomers, proved that WideX is working without problems (in parallel with the so-called "narrow-band" correlator). Science demonstration observations gave a first glimpse of the exciting new observing possibilities that are opening up with this major upgrade of the Plateau de Bure Interferometer (see figure).

Since March 15, 2010, WideX is used systematically (as it also facilitates the interferometer’s calibration and pointing).

The system is composed of four units, each covering 2 GHz with 1024 channels (giving a channel spacing of about 1.95 MHz). It has been designed to cope with 8 antennas to accomodate future extensions of the Plateau de Bure Interferometer. Filters reduce the usable bandwidth to about 1.8 GHz for each unit, resulting in a contiguous bandwidth of 3.6 GHz for each polarization (at the same sky frequency).

For more information about the new WideX correlator, please click here.