The AMiBA platform debate (16/feb/2001) The AMiBA design team is firming up the instrument specifications. One major item which is yet to be defined is the platform size. A platform is needed to house all 19 antennas of the CMB experiment. The hope is to use the same platform for the SZ experiment. That is, the CMB would use 19 antennas, each 30 cm in diameter, grouped in a tight hexagonal cluster, occupying the central 2 m of a platform. It has been suggested that a 5 m platform would provide a sound basis for the SZ experiment, with 19 antennas, each 1.2 m in diameter. This note identifies a number of issues which would drive the design process, and help decide whether such a concept is viable. In effect, it attempts to identify those matters which bear on the question : what array type/configuration best attacks the SZ goals? Is the straw-man design (1.2 m antennas; 5 m platform) a good approximation to the preferred option? I think that all the issues have been aired – in particular in the memos by Haida Liang and Ravi Subrahmanyan. (AMiBA memos #1, 3, 4, 15). Note: some instrumental specifications are already largely fixed: 19 Dual-polarisation receivers, with system temperatures ~ 100 K; 16 GHz Bandwidth, 8 channel correlator. I. Cluster Survey. The observables are the population statistics : the distribution by size and flux density. Modest resolution imaging of detected clusters. The instrument will only be interesting if it has enough sensitivity and resolution to provide statistically meaningful numbers for a plausible investment in observing time. The array should also be significantly better than current instruments. The question to be resolved is this: Is there an antenna size/platform size that makes sense? The current working model has a primary antenna of 1.2 m diameter, and a platform of 5 to 6 m in size. Is that interesting enough? The interlocking isues seem to be: 1. Resolution. Too large an array will lead to a reduction in efficiency of the instrument, with little/no signal on the longer baselines. A number of different arguments point to a typical scale size of 1 to 2 arcminutes. One could point to the current SZ detections (Carlstrom et al); or the SZ-simulations (Ue-Li; Liddle) that Haida has been examining. 2. Confusion. A measurement will only be significant if it stands clear of the noise – the receiver noise and the confusion noise. We need to be comfortable that the survey threshold stands several above all other sources. There are two quite different problems: Confusion from foreground sources. This is somewhat unknown territory, as we need to extrapolate from lower frequency observations. Holdaway, Subrahmanyan, Toffolatti suggest a density of N ( S ) ~ 5S 0.75 (counts per square degree, S in mJy) This is significantly lower than the expected cluster density distribution and since we expect less than one cluster for each pointing, it suggests that this form of confusion is manageable. Note that both the cluster predictions and the point source distribution predictions have significant uncertainties, but I don’t think the conclusions change – confusion seems manageable. We would need high resolution observations if it were a serious issue, and this would require baselines exceeding 10 m to be useful. Confusion from other clusters. This problem will set in as the survey threshold is lowered. Higher resolution observations are unlikely to help as all these sources are comparably extended. Pushed to the limit, this merges with the second SZ experiment – the baryon distribution search. There is some suggestion that clusters are themselves clustered. This would exacerbate the problem, as it would make the simple population statistics suspect. I don’t see any simple resolution to this at this stage – one needs the data. The Carlstrom data suggests that it isn’t a problem. Point sources within the clusters These, if present, would act against the SZ signal and corrupt the mass estimates. Estimates (eg, Carlstrom) indicate that these will not be an issue. High resolution would be the only remedy. Will additional studies add more light? We could explore the point source confusion issue by adding sources to the Ue-Li/Liddle simulation fields, and then repeating the Miriad analysis. . II. SZ-filaments This experiment explores, via the SZ effect, the large-scale baryon distribution. In practical terms, it will look at the spatial power spectrum at l-values around 3000. The bandpower seems likely to be just a few K (Holzapfel; the sz simulations). The platform is well suited for the experiment, but since the bandpower amounts to sub-mJy map rms, we will need to worry about foreground point source confusion. The l-space signatures are probably not different enough to separate the two. This experiment is likely to require many hours of integration on a small number of fields; I suggest that high resolution observations with a large array (eg, BIMA; ATNF) would offer a useful defence against the point sources. M.Kesteven’s conclusions: - A 5m-class platform would answer the SZ experiment goals, being well matched to the source scale sizes. - No compelling case can be made for a “somewhat larger” platform in order to provide protection against confusion in the SZ cluster count experiment : it seems that confusion will not be an issue, and secondly, if it were, then a “seriously larger” platform would be needed. - The SZ-filament distribution experiment will be a very challenging experiment. Confusion is just one of its difficulties.