Superresolution Interferometric Imaging with Sparse Modeling Using Total Squared Variation — Application to Imaging the Black Hole Shadow [IMA]

We propose a new superresolution imaging technique for interferometry using sparse modeling, utilizing two regularization terms: the $\ell_1$-norm and a new function named Total Squared Variation (TSV) of the brightness distribution. TSV is an edge-smoothing variant of Total Variation (TV), leading to reducing the sum of squared gradients. First, we demonstrate that our technique may achieve super-resolution of $\sim 30$% compared to the traditional CLEAN beam size using synthetic observations of two point sources. Second, we present simulated observations of three physically motivated static models of Sgr A* with the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) to show the performance of proposed techniques in greater detail. We find that $\ell_1$+TSV regularization outperforms $\ell_1$+TV regularization with the popular isotropic TV term and the Cotton-Schwab CLEAN algorithm, demonstrating that TSV is well-matched to the expected physical properties of the astronomical images, which are often nebulous. Remarkably, in both the image and gradient domains, the optimal beam size minimizing root-mean-squared errors is $\lesssim 10$% of the traditional CLEAN beam size for $\ell_1$+TSV regularization, and non-convolved reconstructed images have smaller errors than beam-convolved reconstructed images. This indicates that the traditional post-processing technique of Gaussian convolution in interferometric imaging may not be required for the $\ell_1$+TSV regularization. We also propose a feature extraction method to detect circular features from the image of a black hole shadow with the circle Hough transform (CHT) and use it to evaluate the performance of the image reconstruction. With our imaging technique and the CHT, the EHT can constrain the radius of the black hole shadow with an accuracy of $\sim 10-20$% in present simulations for Sgr A*.

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K. Kuramochi, K. Akiyama, S. Ikeda, et. al.
Mon, 19 Feb 18

Comments: 18 pages, 7 figures, submitted to ApJ, revised in Feb 2018

Projected WIMP sensitivity of the LUX-ZEPLIN (LZ) dark matter experiment [IMA]

LUX-ZEPLIN (LZ) is a next generation dark matter direct detection experiment that will operate 4850 feet underground at the Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF) in Lead, South Dakota, USA. Using a two-phase xenon detector with an active mass of 7 tonnes, LZ will search primarily for low-energy interactions with Weakly Interacting Massive Particles (WIMPs), which are hypothesized to make up the dark matter in our galactic halo. In this paper, the projected WIMP sensitivity of LZ is presented based on the latest background estimates and simulations of the detector. For a 1000 live day run using a 5.6 tonne fiducial mass, LZ is projected to exclude at 90% confidence level spin-independent WIMP-nucleon cross sections above $1.6 \times 10^{-48}$ cm$^{2}$ for a 40 $\mathrm{GeV}/c^{2}$ mass WIMP. Additionally, a $5\sigma$ discovery potential is projected reaching cross sections below the existing and projected exclusion limits of similar experiments that are currently operating. For spin-dependent WIMP-neutron(-proton) scattering, a sensitivity of $2.7 \times 10^{-43}$ cm$^{2}$ ($8.1 \times 10^{-42}$ cm$^{2}$) for a 40 $\mathrm{GeV}/c^{2}$ mass WIMP is expected. With construction well underway, LZ is on track for underground installation at SURF in 2019 and will start collecting data in 2020.

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D. Akerib, C. Akerlof, S. Alsum, et. al.
Mon, 19 Feb 18

Comments: 14 pages, 11 figures

Rejuvenating the Contract of Academia With Society [CL]

Academia owes the public a fresh look at its education and research mission. First and foremost, researchers must communicate the results of their latest studies in a truthful and meaningful way. Second, the traditional boundaries among disciplines should be blurred since innovation often blossoms along these boundaries. Third, universities should develop courses which are relevant for the skills required in the job market today. Finally, professors should mentor the future leaders of science, technology, arts and humanities and not just replicate themselves.

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A. Loeb
Mon, 19 Feb 18

Comments: 3 pages, Accepted for publication in Scientific American

An image-based array trigger for Imaging Atmospheric Cherenkov Telescope Arrays [IMA]

It is anticipated that forthcoming, next generation, atmospheric Cherenkov telescope arrays will include a number of medium-sized telescopes that are constructed using a dual-mirror Schwarzschild-Couder configuration. These telescopes will sample a wide ($8^{\circ}$) field of view using a densely pixelated camera comprising over $10^{4}$ individual readout channels. A readout frequency congruent with the expected single-telescope trigger rates would result in substantial data rates. To ameliorate these data rates, a novel, hardware-level Distributed Intelligent Array Trigger (DIAT) is envisioned. A copy of the DIAT operates autonomously at each telescope and uses reduced resolution imaging data from a limited subset of nearby telescopes to veto events prior to camera readout {and any subsequent network transmission of camera data that is required for centralized storage or aggregation}. We present the results of Monte-Carlo simulations that evaluate the efficacy of a “Parallax width” discriminator that can be used by the DIAT to efficiently distinguish between genuine gamma-ray initiated events and unwanted background events that are initiated by hadronic cosmic rays.

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H. Dickinson, F. Krennrich, A. Weinstein, et. al.
Mon, 19 Feb 18

Comments: 22 pages, 12 figures. Accepted for publication in NIMA

On the Practical Applications of Information Field Dynamics [CL]

In this study we explore a new simulation scheme for partial differential equations known as Information Field Dynamics (IFD). Information field dynamics attempts to improve on existing simulation schemes by incorporating Bayesian field inference into the simulation scheme. The field inference is truly Bayesian and thus depends on a notion of prior belief. A number of results are presented, both theoretical and practical. Many small fixes and results on the general theory are presented, before exploring two general classes of simulation schemes that are possible in the IFD framework. For both, we present a set of theoretical results alongside the development of a prototype scheme. The first class of models corresponds roughly to traditional fixed-grid numerical PDE solvers. The prior Bayesian assumption in these models is that the fields are smooth, and their correlation structure does not vary between locations. For these reasons we call them translation-invariant schemes. We show the requirements for stability of these schemes, but most importantly we prove that these schemes indeed converge to the true behaviour of the field in the limit of high resolutions. Convergence had never been shown for any previous IFD scheme. We also find the error scaling of these codes and show that they implement something very analogous to a high-order finite-difference derivative approximation, which are the most elementary and well-studied numerical schemes. This is an important result, which proves the validity of the IFD approach. The second class of schemes, called the SPH-like schemes are similar to existing Smooth Particle Hydrodynamics codes, in which the simulation grid moves with the flow of the field being modelled.

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M. Dupont
Mon, 19 Feb 18

Comments: N/A

Advanced Diagnostics for the Study of Linearly Polarized Emission. II: Application to Diffuse Interstellar Radio Synchrotron Emission [GA]

Diagnostics of polarized emission provide us with valuable information on the Galactic magnetic field and the state of turbulence in the interstellar medium, which cannot be obtained from synchrotron intensity alone. In Paper I (Herron et al. 2017b), we derived polarization diagnostics that are rotationally and translationally invariant in the $Q$-$U$ plane, similar to the polarization gradient. In this paper, we apply these diagnostics to simulations of ideal magnetohydrodynamic turbulence that have a range of sonic and Alfv\’enic Mach numbers. We generate synthetic images of Stokes $Q$ and $U$ for these simulations, for the cases where the turbulence is illuminated from behind by uniform polarized emission, and where the polarized emission originates from within the turbulent volume. From these simulated images we calculate the polarization diagnostics derived in Paper I, for different lines of sight relative to the mean magnetic field, and for a range of frequencies. For all of our simulations, we find that the polarization gradient is very similar to the generalized polarization gradient, and that both trace spatial variations in the magnetoionic medium for the case where emission originates within the turbulent volume, provided that the medium is not supersonic. We propose a method for distinguishing the cases of emission coming from behind or within a turbulent, Faraday rotating medium, and a method to partly map the rotation measure of the observed region. We also speculate on statistics of these diagnostics that may allow us to constrain the physical properties of an observed turbulent region.

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C. Herron, B. Burkhart, B. Gaensler, et. al.
Fri, 16 Feb 18

Comments: 34 pages, 25 figures, accepted for publication in ApJ