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OH maser observations using the Russian interferometric network “Quasar” in preparation for scientific observations with the space mission RadioAstron

I. D. Litovchenko, A. V. Alakoz, V. I. Kostenko, S. F. Lihacheva, A. M. Finkelstein, A. V. Ipatov

Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union, Volume 8, Symposium 287, Cosmic Masers - from OH to H0, (2012)

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We present results of a VLBI experiment at a wavelength of 18 cm, which simulates the ground-space interferometer with space link to RadioAstron. An array of five antennas was used, four of them are located in the Russian Federation, plus the the 32-m radio telescope in Medicine (Italy). The 22-m radio telescope in Pushchino (Moscow Region) acted in place of the space arm. It has an effective area of 100 square meters. The three other Russian 32-m antennas are operated by the Institute of Applied Astronomy RAS; they are located at Badary, Svetloe and Zelenchukskaya (interferometer network “Quasar”). The maximum base-line, Badary-Svetloe, was about 4402 km, providing an angular resolution of about 0.009 arc seconds at a wavelength of 18 cm. The duration of the experiment was 10 hours on 02/03 February 2011. The program of observations included quasars 3C273, 3C279, 3C286 and the maser source - W3(OH). W3(OH) was observed only by the Russian telescopes and was investigated at the frequency of the 1665 MHz main line. The data were recorded on the MK5 recorder (32-m radio telescopes) and the RDR system (RadioAstron Digital Recorder) in Pushchino. The low SEFD (system equivalence of flux density) of Pushchino emulated the RadioAstron antenna. Correlation was performed with the universal software correlator of the AstroSpace Center of Lebedev Physical Institute. The correlator output format is compatible with that used by the AIPS package, which was used for data analysis. After analyzing the correlated data we obtained relative coordinates of the maser components. The main results are tabulated and presented in the figures. The data quality is sufficient for astrophysical analysis and comparison with previous observations of maser source W3(OH) on VLBI networks EVN and VLBA.