Context. Determining the spectral and spatial characteristics of the radio continuum of our Galaxy is an experimentally challenging endeavour for improving our understanding of the astrophysics of the interstellar medium. This knowledge has also become of paramount significance for cosmology, since Galactic emission is the main source of astrophysical contamination in measurements of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation on large angular scales. Aims. We present a partial-sky survey of the radio continuum at 2.3GHz within the scope of the Galactic Emission Mapping (GEM) project, an observational program conceived and developed to reveal the large-scale properties of Galactic synchrotron radiation through a set of self-consistent surveys of the radio continuum between 408MHz and 10GHz. Methods. The GEM experiment uses a portable and double-shielded 5.5-m radiotelescope in altazimuthal configuration to map 60-degree-wide declination bands from different observational sites by circularly scanning the sky at zenithal angles of 30 from a constantly rotating platform. The observations were accomplished with a total power receiver, whose front-end high electron mobility transistor (HEMT) amplifier was matched directly to a cylindrical horn at the prime focus of the parabolic reflector. The Moon was used to calibrate the antenna temperature scale and the preparation of the map required direct subtraction and destriping algorithms to remove ground contamination as the most significant source of systematic error. Results. We used 484 h of total intensity observations from two locations in Colombia and Brazil to yield 66% sky coverage from to. The observations in Colombia were obtained with a horizontal HPBW of and a vertical HPBW of. The pointing accuracy was and the RMS sensitivity was 11.42 mK. The observations in Brazil were obtained with a horizontal HPBW of and a vertical HPBW of. The pointing accuracy was and the RMS sensitivity was 8.24 mK. The zero-level uncertainty of the combined survey is 103mK with a temperature scale error of 5% after direct correlation with the Rhodes/HartRAO survey at 2326MHz on a T-T plot. Conclusions. The sky brightness distribution into regions of low and high emission in the GEM survey is consistent with the appearance of a transition region as seen in the Haslam 408MHz and WMAP K-band surveys. Preliminary results also show that the temperature spectral index between 408MHz and the 2.3GHz band of the GEM survey has a weak spatial correlation with these regions; but it steepens significantly from high to low emission regions with respect to the WMAP K-band survey. © ESO, 2013.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science