What is the Sensitivity of the VLA?

-- | January 22, 2018

Question: What is the sensitivity of the VLA in WATTS?  — Ben

Answer: The sensitivity of the VLA is dependent upon what frequency you observe at, how many antennas you use in your measurements, how wide your receiver detection bandwidth is, how efficient your antennas are at receiving a signal at a given frequency, and how long you observe.  To give an example, if you observe at 1420 MHz using a receiver detection bandwidth of 600 MHz for one minute, you will have a sensitivity of about 60 micro Janskys.  Since one Jansky is equal to 10^(-26) Watts per square meter per Hertz (W m^(-2) Hz^(-1), your sensitivity in W m^(-2) Hz^(-1) would be about 6.0×10^(-31) W m^(-2) Hz^(-1).  The VLA observer’s manual section on sensitivity provides the details behind this calculation.

Jeff Mangum