Baseline correction for FAST radio recombination lines: a modified penalized least squares smoothing technique

Bin Liu, Lixin Wang, Junzhi Wang, Bo Peng, Hongjun Wang

Submitted on 20 September 2022


A pilot project has been proceeded to map 1 deg2 on the Galactic plane for radio recombination lines (RRLs) using the Five hundred meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST). The motivation is to verify the techniques and reliabilities for a large-scale Galactic plane RRL survey with FAST aiming to investigate the ionized environment in the Galaxy. The data shows that the bandpass of the FAST 19 beam L-band is severely affected by radio frequency interferences (RFIs) and standing wave ripples, which can hardly be corrected by traditional low order polynomials. In this paper, we investigate a series of penalized least square (PLS) based baseline correction methods for radio astronomical spectra that usually contain weak signals with high level of noise. Three promising penalized least squares based methods, AsLS, arPLS, and asPLS are evaluated. Adopting their advantages, a modified method named rrlPLS is developed to optimize the baseline fitting to our RRL spectra. To check their effectiveness, the four methods are tested by simulations and further verified using observed data sets. It turns out that the rrlPLS method, with optimized parameter λ=2×108 , reveals the most sensitive and reliable emission features in the RRL map. By injecting artificial line profiles into the real data cube, a further evaluation of profile distortion is conducted for rrlPLS. Comparing to simulated signals, the processed lines with low signal-to-noise ratio are less affected, of which the uncertainties are mainly caused by the rms noise. The rrlPLS method will be applied for baseline correction in future data processing pipeline of FAST RRL survey. Configured with proper parameters, the rrlPLS technique verified in this work may also be used for other spectroscopy projects.


Comment: accepted for publication in PASA

Subjects: Astrophysics - Astrophysics of Galaxies; Astrophysics - Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics