Limits on the validity of the thin-layer model of the ionosphere for radio interferometric calibration
(0 votes over all institutions)
For a ground-based radio interferometer observing at low frequencies, the ionosphere causes propagation delays and refraction of cosmic radio waves which result in phase errors in the received signal. These phase errors can be corrected using a calibration method that assumes a two-dimensional phase screen at a fixed altitude above the surface of the Earth, known as the thin-layer model. Here we investigate the validity of the thin-layer model and provide a simple equation with which users can check when this approximation can be applied to observations for varying time of day, zenith angle, interferometer latitude, baseline length, ionospheric electron content and observing frequency.