Wide-field VLBA observations of theChandradeep field South
Astronomy and Astrophysics
Wide-field surveys are a commonly-used method for studying thousands of objects simultaneously, to investigate, e.g., the joint evolution of star-forming galaxies and active galactic nuclei. VLBI observations can yield valuable input to such studies because they are able to identify AGN. However, VLBI observations of large swaths of the sky are impractical using standard methods, because the fields of view of VLBI observations are of the order of 10" or less. We have embarked on a project to
... on a project to carry out Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) observations of all 96 known radio sources in one of the best-studied areas in the sky, the Chandra Deep Field South (CDFS). The challenge was to develop methods which could significantly reduce the amount of observing (and post-processing) time. We have developed an extension to the DiFX software correlator which allows one to correlate hundreds of positions within the primary beams. This extension enabled us to target many sources, at full resolution and high sensitivity, using only a small amount of observing time. The combination of wide fields-of-view and high sensitivity across the field in this survey is unprecedented. We have observed with the VLBA a single pointing containing the Chandra Deep Field South, in which 96 radio sources were known from previous observations with the ATCA. From our input sample, 20 were detected with the VLBA. The majority of objects have flux densities in agreement with arcsec-scale observations, implying that their radio emission comes from very small regions. One VLBI-detected object had earlier been classified as a star-forming galaxy. Comparing the VLBI detections to sources found in sensitive, co-located X-ray observations we find that X-ray detections are not a good indicator for VLBI detections. Wide-field VLBI survey science is now coming of age.