Detecting 21 cm EoR Signal using Drift Scans: Correlation of Time-ordered Visibilities
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(2019)cite arxiv:1905.05772Comment: 22 pages and 6 figures. Submitted for publication. Comments and suggestions are welcome.

We present a formalism to extract the EoR HI power spectrum for drift scans using radio interferometers. Our main aim is to determine the coherence time scale of time-ordered visibilities. We compute the two-point correlation function of the HI visibilities measured at different times to address this question. We determine, for a given baseline, the decorrelation of the amplitude and the phase of this complex function. Our analysis uses primary beams of four ongoing and future interferometers---PAPER, MWA, HERA, and SKA1-LOW. We identify physical processes responsible for the decorrelation of the HI signal and isolate their impact by making suitable analytic approximations. For large beams (PAPER, MWA) and large baselines the decorrelation is dominated by the rotation of the sky intensity pattern and is proportional to the inverse of the primary beam. For smaller beams (HERA, SKA1-LOW), the translation of the intensity pattern also plays an important role. The decorrelation time of the amplitude of the correlation function lies in the range of 2--20~minutes for baselines of interest for the extraction of the HI signal. The phase angle of the correlation function can be made small after scaling out an appropriate phase term, which also causes the coherence time scale of the phase to be longer than the amplitude of the correlation function. We find that our results are insensitive to the input HI power spectrum and therefore they are directly applicable to the analysis of the drift scan data. We also apply our formalism to a set of point sources and statistically homogeneous diffuse correlated foregrounds. We find that point sources decorrelate on a time scale much shorter than the HI signal. This provides a novel mechanism to partially mitigate foregrounds on the plane of the sky in a drift scan.
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