The Combined Array for Research in Millimeter-wave Astronomy (CARMA) comprises the millimeter-wave antennas of the Owens Valley Radio Observatory (OVRO), the Berkeley-Illinois-Maryland Association (BIMA) Array, and the new Sunyaev-Zel'dovich Array (SZA). CARMA consists of six 10.4-m, nine 6.1-m, and eventually eight 3.5-m diameter antennas on a site at elevation 2200 m in the Inyo Mountains near Bishop, California. The array will be operated by an association that includes the California Institute of Technology and the Universities of California (Berkeley), Chicago, Illinois (Urbana-Champaign), and Maryland. Observations will be supported at wavelengths of 1 cm, 3 mm, and 1.3 mm, on baselines from 5 m to 2 km. The initial correlator will use field programmable gate array (FPGA) technology to provide all single-polarization cross-correlations on two subarrays of 8 and 15 antennas with a total bandwidth of 8 GHz on the sky. The next generation correlator will correlate the full 23-antenna array in both polarizations. CARMA will support student training, technology development, and front-line astronomical research in a wide range of fields including cosmology, galaxy formation and evolution, star and planet formation, stellar evolution, chemistry of the interstellar medium, and within the Solar System, comets, planets, and the Sun. Commissioning of CARMA began in August 2005, after relocation of the antennas to the new site. The first science observations commenced in April 2006.
The Combined Array for Research in Millimeter-wave Astronomy (CARMA) requires a flexible correlator to process the data from up to 23 telescopes and up to 8GHz of receiver bandwidth. The Caltech Owens Valley Broadband Reconfigurable Array (COBRA) correlator, developed for use at the Owens Valley millimeter-wave array and being used by the Sunyaev-Zeldovich Array (SZA), will be adapted for use by CARMA. The COBRA correlator system, a hybrid analog-digital design, consisting of downconverters, digitizers and correlators will be presented in this paper.
The downconverters receive an input IF of 1-9GHz and produce a selectable output bandwidth of 62.5MHz, 125MHz, 250MHz, or 500MHz. The downconverter output is digitized at 1Gsample/s to 2-bits per sample. The digitized data is optionally digitally filtered to produce bands narrower than 62.5MHz (down to 2MHz). The digital correlator system is a lag- or XF-based system implemented using Field-Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs). The digital system implements delay lines, calculates the autocorrelations for each antenna,
and the cross-correlations for each baseline. The number of lags, and hence spectral channels, produced by the system is a function of the input bandwidth; with the 500MHz band having the coarsest resolution, and the narrowest bandwidths having the finest resolution.
A new Combined Array for Research in Millimeter-wave Astronomy (CARMA) interferometer is being assembled from the existing Owens Valley Radio Observatory (OVRO), the Berkeley-Illinois-Maryland Association (BIMA) millimeter interferometers and the new Sunyaev?Zeldovich Array (SZA) at Cedar Flat, a site at 2,200 m altitude in the Inyo Mountains east of OVRO. The array will consist of 23 antennas of three different diameters, 3.5, 6.1 and 10.4 m, and will support observations in the 1 cm, 3 mm and 1.3 mm bands. The fist-light correlator is a flexible FPGA based system that will process up to 8 GHz of bandwidth on the sky for two subarrays consisting of 8 and 15 elements. The array configurations will offer antenna spacings from 5 m to 1.9 km allowing unprecedented high resolution and wide field imaging at millimeter wavelengths. Radiometers observing the 22 GHz water vapor emission line will be used to measure and correct for the water vapor induced path delay along the line of sight for each telescope and thereby minimize the time lost to “bad seeing”. This university based facility will emphasize technology development and student training along with leading edge astronomical research in areas ranging from Sunyaev-Zeldovich effect galaxy cluster surveys to studying protoplanetary disks.