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Empirical modelling of the BLASTPol achromatic half-wave plate for precision submillimetre polarimetry

Moncelsi, L., Ade, Peter A. R., Angile, F. E., Benton, S. J., Devlin, M. J., Fissel, L. M., Gandilo, N. N., Gundersen, J. O., Matthews, T. G., Netterfield, C. B., Novak, G., Nutter, David John, Pascale, Enzo, Poidevin, F., Savini, Giorgio, Scott, D., Soler, J. D., Spencer, Locke, Truch, M. D. P., Tucker, G. S. and Zhang, Jin 2014. Empirical modelling of the BLASTPol achromatic half-wave plate for precision submillimetre polarimetry. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 437 (3) , pp. 2772-2789. 10.1093/mnras/stt2090

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A cryogenic achromatic half-wave plate (HWP) for submillimetre astronomical polarimetry has been designed, manufactured, tested and deployed in the Balloon-borne Large-Aperture Submillimeter Telescope for Polarimetry (BLASTPol). The design is based on the five-slab Pancharatnam recipe and it works in the wavelength range 200–600 μm, making it the broadest-band HWP built to date at (sub)millimetre wavelengths. The frequency behaviour of the HWP has been fully characterized at room and cryogenic temperatures with incoherent radiation from a polarizing Fourier transform spectrometer. We develop a novel empirical model, complementary to the physical and analytical ones available in the literature, that allows us to recover the HWP Mueller matrix and phase shift as a function of frequency and extrapolated to 4 K. We show that most of the HWP non-idealities can be modelled by quantifying one wavelength-dependent parameter, the position of the HWP equivalent axes, which is then readily implemented in a map-making algorithm. We derive this parameter for a range of spectral signatures of input astronomical sources relevant to BLASTPol, and provide a benchmark example of how our method can yield improved accuracy on measurements of the polarization angle on the sky at submillimetre wavelengths.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Physics and Astronomy
Subjects: Q Science > QB Astronomy
Uncontrolled Keywords: magnetic fields; polarization; balloons; instrumentation: polarimeters; techniques: polarimetric; submillimetre: ISM
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISSN: 0035-8711
Funders: Leverhulme
Date of Acceptance: 24 October 2013
Last Modified: 18 Feb 2019 14:41

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