Date of Award

Spring 2007

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Applied Physics - (Ph.D.)

Department

Federated Physics Department

First Advisor

Dale E. Gary

Second Advisor

Stephen M. White

Third Advisor

John Francis Federici

Fourth Advisor

Haimin Wang

Fifth Advisor

Carsten J. Denker

Sixth Advisor

Martin Schaden

Abstract

The construction of the Frequency Agile Solar Radiotelescope (FASR) Subsystem Testbed (FST) and observational results are described. Three antennas of Owens Valley Solar Array (OVSA) have been upgraded with newly designed, state of art technology. The 1-9 GHz RF signal from the antenna feed is transmitted via broadband (45 MHz-9.5 GHz) optical fiber links to the control room. The RF is then downconverted to a 500 MHz, single-sideband signal that can be tuned across the 1-9 GHz RF band. The data are sampled with an 8-bit, 1 GHz sampling-rate digitizer, and further saved to a computer hard disk. The full-resolution time-domain data thus recorded are then correlated through offline software to provide phase and amplitude spectra. An important feature of this approach is that the data can be reanalyzed multiple times with different digital signal-processing techniques (e.g., different bit-sampling, windowing, and RFI excision methods) to test the effects of different designs. As a prototype of the FASR system, FST provides the opportunity to study the design, calibration and interference-avoidance requirements of FASR. In addition, FST provides, for the first time, the ability to perform broadband spectroscopy of the Sun with high spectral, temporal and moderate spatial resolution. With this three-element interferometer, one has the ability to determine the location of simple sources with spectrograph-like time and frequency resolution.

The large solar flare of 2006 December 6 was detected by the newly constructed FASR Subsystem Testbed, which is operating on three antennas of Owens Valley Solar Array. This record-setting burst produced an especially fine set of fiber bursts--so-called intermediate-drift bursts that drift from high to low frequencies over 6-10 s. According to a leading theory (Kuijpers 1975), the fibers are generated by packets of whistler waves propagating along a magnetic loop, which coalesce with Langmuir waves to produce escaping electromagnetic radiation in the decimeter band. With this three element interferometer, for the first time fiber burst source locations can be determined relative to the background even though the absolute location is still unkown for the lack of phase calibration information. The radio information over a 500 MHz band (1.0-1.5 GHz) was used to determine the trajectories of the bursts.

Since the digital data are recorded with full resolution and processed offline, a key advantage of it is that one can process the data in different ways in order to simulate and test hardware implementations. FST data provides a unique testbed for studying methods of RFI excision. RFI is observed to be present in every one of the 500 MHz bands, and the high time and frequency resolution provided by FST allows one to characterize it in great detail. The use of time-domain kurtosis, and a variant of the kurtosis method in the frequency domain were explored to identify the presence of RFI and flag bad channels in simulated real time (i.e., we play back the raw, full-resolution recorded data and flag the bad channels during play-back just as a real-time system would do). The ability to select alternate RFI excision algorithms during play-back allows one to compare algorithms on an equal basis. From the same data set, the two kurtosis (time domain and frequency domain) RFI excision algorithms were compared. The results are compared quantitatively to show that the spectral kurtosis is more effective than time domain kurtosis algorithm for detecting the RFI contamination, as expected from theoretical considerations.

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