The Baryon Acoustic Oscillation Broadband and Broad-beam Array: Design Overview and Sensitivity Forecasts
This work describes a new instrument optimized for a detection of the neutral hydrogen 21cm power spectrum between redshifts of 0.5-1.5: the Baryon Acoustic Oscillation Broadband and Broad-beam (BAOBAB) Array. BAOBAB will build on the efforts of a first generation of 21cm experiments which are targeting a detection of the signal from the Epoch of Reionization at z ~ 10. At z ~ 1, the emission from neutral hydrogen in self-shielded overdense halos also presents an accessible signal, since the dominant, synchrotron foreground emission is considerably fainter than at redshift 10. The principle science driver for these observations are Baryon Acoustic Oscillations in the matter power spectrum which have the potential to act as a standard ruler and constrain the nature of dark energy. BAOBAB will fully correlate dual-polarization antenna tiles over the 600-900MHz band with a frequency resolution of 300 kHz and a system temperature of 50K. The number of antennas will grow in staged deployments, and reconfigurations of the array will allow for both traditional imaging and high power spectrum sensitivity operations. We present calculations of the power spectrum sensitivity for various array sizes, with a 35-element array measuring the cosmic neutral hydrogen fraction as a function of redshift, and a 132-element system detecting the BAO features in the power spectrum, yielding a 1.8% error on the z ~ 1 distance scale, and, in turn, significant improvements to constraints on the dark energy equation of state over an unprecedented range of redshifts from ~0.5-1.5.