Glossary for ALMA Data Processing

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  • Amplitude: modulus of a visibility point, measured on a flux density scale (usually in Jy)
  • Beam:
    • Primary beam: the angular sensitivity pattern on the sky of each antenna in the array. It defines the field of view for a given pointing in the sky. The primary beam varies as ~1.2([math]\displaystyle{ \lambda }[/math]/D), where [math]\displaystyle{ \lambda }[/math] is the observational wavelength and D is the antenna diameter.
    • Synthesized beam (beam): the effective angular resolution (~psf) of an interferometric array, for a given frequency, sky declination and antennae distribution.
  • Calibrated data: visibilities to which calibration tables have been applied (see calibration). The calibrated data can be directly used for analysis in the Fourier plane, or imaged to derive a map in the sky plane.
  • Calibration: process during the data reduction in which different corrections tables are derived and subsequently applied to the data. This includes scaling by system temperature, bandpass response correction, temporal gain correction (for phase and amplitude), absolute flux scaling. Water Vapor Radiometer corrections (small-scale phase corrections) can also be applied).
  • Cleaning: processes of deconvolving an image from the secondary lobes of the synthesized beam
  • Continuum: emission varying very smoothly with frequency (for example, black body emission)
  • Data Package: directory downloaded from the ALMA archive, containing scripts, measurement sets, log files and notes.
  • Doppler tracking': the action of changing the frequency observed to take into account the Doppler
  • Execution block
  • Image, Image cube
  • Imaging
  • Mask, clean mask
  • Measurement set
  • Quality Assurance
  • Phase
  • Scan


  • Scheduling block Instance of an observation


  • Spectral window' : subrange of frequencies, defined by the spectral setup of a project. In ALMA Cycle 0 observations, each execution block contains four spectral windows.


  • u,v distance: distance of a point in the Fourier plane (coordinate Ux, Vx) to the phase center in the Fourier plane (coordinates 0,0). The (u,v) distance of a visibility corresponds to the projected length of the corresponding baseline. It is s expressed either in meters or wavelength number (usually k[math]\displaystyle{ \lambda }[/math]). Generally speaking, visibilities with a short (u,v) distance contain information on large angular scales on the sky.


  • Visibility: the cross-correlation product of signals from two antennas. The data collected from the correlator in an interferometer consists of visibilities. They are complex numbers, whose argument is the phase and modulus is the amplitude. Visibilities coordinates are expressed in the Fourier Plane.