HERA Report

The HERA project was recently awarded another round of US National Science Foundation (NSF) funding to observe with the fully built HERA-350 array. The five year US$7.2M award extends from 1 October 2018 – 30 September 2023, and funds observations and analysis for detecting and characterising the Epoch of Reionization. This funding allows full use of the telescope during the final construction period (completed by 2020, funded by the NSF, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and HERA partners) and beyond. The new funding also supports work packages examining imaging techniques and specifying the next generation experiment. At the end of this latest round, it is expected that the HERA experiment will be winding down to begin a new phase of design and analysis.

The project is currently commissioning the new system that has recently been installed on the first antennas. The new system replaces every aspect except for the antennas themselves and allows performance from 50 – 237 MHz at higher spectral and time resolution. The new analog system has been designed by Cavendish, and team members recently went down to install and test the units (see Figure 1). The amazing site team continues their construction progress, with most of the base infrastructure in place, 175 elements completed (increasing daily!) and more well along.

The growing HERA team held its annual meeting in October in Tempe, AZ USA (Figure 2). The meeting includes “busy time” where actual work occurs as well as well as planning, presentations and socializing. It is a great opportunity for team interaction outside of Zoom, Slack and email.

HERA is a partnership to conduct an experiment to detect and characterize the Epoch of Reionization. Partner institutions in the collaboration are Arizona State University, Brown University, University of California Berkeley, University of California Los Angeles, University of Cambridge, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, McGill University, National Radio Astronomy Observatory, University of Pennsylvania, Queen Mary University of London, Scuola Normale Superiore de Pisa, SKA-South Africa and the University of Washington. Additional collaborators are Cal Poly Pomona, Imperial College, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, University of KwaZulu Natal, Rhodes University and University of Western Cape. HERA is an SKA precursor instrument. HERA is funded by the US National Science Foundation, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation with additional support from the partner institutions.

Figure 1: The Cambridge and site team installing and testing the full 50-237 MHz system in October in the Karoo.

Figure 2: HERA team at the 2018 HERA annual meeting in Tempe, AZ.

Report provided by David de boer, University of California Berkeley, HERA Project Manager