#mwa #radio-astronomy #beam #radio

bin+lib mwa_hyperbeam

Primary beam code for the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) radio telescope

10 releases

0.5.1 Feb 20, 2023
0.5.0 Aug 23, 2022
0.4.0 Jan 11, 2022
0.3.4 Jun 25, 2021
0.3.0 Jan 7, 2021

#5 in Science

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56 downloads per month
Used in mwa_hyperdrive

MPL-2.0 license



Primary beam code for the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) radio telescope.

This code exists to provide a single correct, convenient implementation of Marcin Sokolowski's Full Embedded Element (FEE) primary beam model of the MWA, a.k.a. "the 2016 beam". This code should be used over all others. If there are soundness issues, please raise them here so everyone can benefit.

See the changelog for the latest changes to the code.

Polarisation order

See this document for details on the polarisation order of the beam-response Jones matrices. If the parallactic-angle correction is applied, then it is possible for the code to re-order the Jones matrices.


hyperbeam requires the MWA FEE HDF5 file. This can be obtained with:

wget http://ws.mwatelescope.org/static/mwa_full_embedded_element_pattern.h5

When making a new beam object, hyperbeam needs to know where this HDF5 file is. The easiest thing to do is set the environment variable MWA_BEAM_FILE:

export MWA_BEAM_FILE=/path/to/mwa_full_embedded_element_pattern.h5

(On Pawsey systems, this should be export MWA_BEAM_FILE=/pawsey/mwa/mwa_full_embedded_element_pattern.h5)

hyperbeam can be used by any programming language providing FFI via C. In other words, most languages. See Rust, C and Python examples of usage in the examples directory. A simple Python example is:

>>> import mwa_hyperbeam
>>> beam = mwa_hyperbeam.FEEBeam()
>>> help(beam.calc_jones)
Help on built-in function calc_jones:

calc_jones(az_rad, za_rad, freq_hz, delays, amps, norm_to_zenith, array_latitude_rad, iau_order) method of builtins.FEEBeam instance
    Calculate the beam-response Jones matrix for a given direction and
    pointing. If `array_latitude_rad` is *not* supplied, the result will
    match the original specification of the FEE beam code (possibly more
    useful for engineers).

    Astronomers are more likely to want to specify `array_latitude_rad`
    (which will apply the parallactic-angle correction) and `iau_order`. If
    `array_latitude_rad` is not given, then `iau_reorder` does nothing. See
    this document for more information:

    `delays` and `amps` apply to each dipole in an MWA tile in the M&C
    order; see
    `delays` *must* have 16 elements, whereas `amps` can have 16 or 32
    elements; if 16 are given, then these map 1:1 with dipoles, otherwise
    the first 16 are for X dipole elements, and the next 16 are for Y.

>>> In [4]: print(beam.calc_jones(0, 0.7, 167e6, [0]*16, [1]*16, True, -0.4660608448386394, True))
[-1.51506097e-01-4.35034884e-02j -9.76099405e-06-1.21699926e-05j
  1.73003520e-05-1.53580286e-05j -2.23184781e-01-4.51051073e-02j]


hyperbeam also can also be run on NVIDIA GPUs. To see an example of usage, see any of the examples with "cuda" in the name. CUDA functionality is only provided with one of two Cargo features; see installing from source instructions below.


Python PyPI

If you're using Python version >=3.6:

pip install mwa_hyperbeam


Have a look at the GitHub releases page. There is a Python wheel for all versions of Python 3.6+, as well as shared and static objects for C-style linking. To get an idea of how to link hyperbeam, see the fee.c file in the examples directory.

Because these hyperbeam objects have the HDF5 and ERFA libraries compiled in, their respective licenses are also distributed.

From source


  • Cargo and a Rust compiler. rustup is recommended:


    The Rust compiler must be at least version 1.56.0:

    $ rustc -V
    rustc 1.57.0 (f1edd0429 2021-11-29)
  • hdf5

    • Optional; use the hdf5-static or all-static features.
      • Requires CMake version 3.10 or higher.
    • Ubuntu: libhdf5-dev
    • Arch: hdf5
    • The C library dir can be specified manually with HDF5_DIR
      • If this is not specified, pkg-config is used to find the library.
  • ERFA

    • Optional; use the erfa-static or all-static features.
      • Requires a C compiler and autoconf.
    • Ubuntu: liberfa-dev
    • Arch: AUR package erfa
    • The C library dir can be specified manually with ERFA_LIB
      • If this is not specified, pkg-config is used to find the library.

Clone the repo, and run:

cargo build --release

For usage with other languages, an include file will be in the include directory, along with C-compatible shared and static objects in the target/release directory.


Are you running hyperbeam on a desktop NVIDIA GPU? Then you probably want to compile with single-precision floats:

cargo build --release --features=cuda-single

Otherwise, go ahead with double-precision floats:

cargo build --release --features=cuda

Desktop GPUs (e.g. NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070) have significantly less double-precision compute capability than "data center" GPUs (e.g. NVIDIA V100). Allowing hyperbeam to switch on the float type allows the user to decide between the performance and precision compromise.

CUDA can also be linked statically:

cargo build --release --features=cuda,cuda-static

Static dependencies

To make hyperbeam without a dependence on a system HDF5 library, give the build command a feature flag:

cargo build --release --features=hdf5-static

This will automatically compile the HDF5 source code and "bake" it into the hyperbeam products, meaning that HDF5 is not needed as a system dependency. CMake version 3.10 or higher is needed to build the HDF5 source.

Similarly, hyperbeam requires ERFA. This can also be compiled automatically with a feature flag:

cargo build --release --features=erfa-static

This can be combined with other features:

cargo build --release --features=hdf5-static,erfa-static

To compile all C libraries statically:

cargo build --release --features=all-static


To install hyperbeam to your currently-in-use virtualenv or conda environment, you'll need the Python package maturin (can get it with pip), then run:

maturin develop --release -b pyo3 --cargo-extra-args="--features python" --strip

If you don't have or don't want to install HDF5 as a system dependency, include the hdf5-static feature:

maturin develop --release -b pyo3 --cargo-extra-args="--features python,hdf5-static" --strip

Comparing with other FEE beam codes

Below is a table comparing other implementations of the FEE beam code. All benchmarks were done with unique azimuth and zenith angle directions, and all on the same system. The CPU is a Ryzen 9 3900X, which has 12 cores and SMT (24 threads). All benchmarks were done in serial, unless indicated by "parallel". Python times were taken by running time.time() before and after the calculations. Memory usage is measured by running time -v on the command (not the time associated with your shell; this is usually at /usr/bin/time).

Code Number of directions Duration Max. memory usage
mwa_pb 500 98.8 ms 134.6 MiB
100000 13.4 s 5.29 GiB
1000000 139.8 s 51.6 GiB
mwa-reduce (C++) 500 115.2 ms 48.9 MiB
10000 2.417 s 6.02 GiB
mwa_hyperbeam 500 30.8 ms 9.82 MiB
100000 2.30 s 17.3 MiB
1000000 22.5 s 85.6 MiB
mwa_hyperbeam (parallel) 1000000 1.73 s 86.1 MiB
mwa_hyperbeam (via python) 500 28.5 ms 35.0 MiB
100000 4.25 s 51.5 MiB
1000000 44.0 s 203.8 MiB
mwa_hyperbeam (via python, parallel) 1000000 3.40 s 203.2 MiB

Not sure what's up with the C++ code. Maybe I'm calling CalcJonesArray wrong, but it uses a huge amount of memory. In any case, hyperbeam seems to be roughly 10x faster.


Run your code with hyperbeam again, but this time with the debug build. This should be as simple as running:

cargo build

and then using the results in ./target/debug.

If that doesn't help reveal the problem, report the version of the software used, your usage and the program output in a new GitHub issue.




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