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FRB 110220 – one of the brightest FRBs discovered in the Parkes high time resolution Universe survey (Thornton et al. 2013). The burst’s dispersion measure of 945 pc cm-3 results in an arrival time spread of approximately 1100 milliseconds across the 400 MHz observing band of Parkes survey observations. The burst would have arrived at the MWA 185 MHz band approximately 112 seconds after its time of detection at Parkes. The inset shows the shape of the pulse, where an exponential tail resulting from multi-path scattering through the intergalactic medium is clearly visible, and follows the expectations based on a Kolmogorov-type turbulence.

FRB 110220 – one of the brightest FRBs discovered in the Parkes high time resolution Universe survey (Thornton et al. 2013). The burst’s dispersion measure of 945 pc cm-3 results in an arrival time spread of approximately 1100 milliseconds across the 400 MHz observing band of Parkes survey observations. The burst would have arrived at the MWA 185 MHz band approximately 112 seconds after its time of detection at Parkes. The inset shows the shape of the pulse, where an exponential tail resulting from multi-path scattering through the intergalactic medium is clearly visible, and follows the expectations based on a Kolmogorov-type turbulence.

In 2013, the Parkes team conducting a large sky survey for pulsars, announced the discovery of an exciting and new class of transient sources – Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs; Thornton et al. 2013). These bursts are thought to originate from cosmological distances, and they provide potential new probes for cosmology: e.g, measuring the baryonic content and the magnetic field of the Intergalactic Medium.
The physics governing the origin of these energetic bursts remains unknown, notwithstanding a continuing flurry of theoretical ideas including exotic possibilities involving compact objects, dark matter and even cosmic strings. As with other high-energy phenomena, such as gamma-ray bursts, localization and follow-up at multiple wavelengths holds the key to uncovering their origin and physics.
Follow-up investigations of FRBs pose major technical challenges given their extremely short (~milliseconds) time durations. The Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP) telescope is a highly promising instrument for FRB hunting (Bannister et al. 2017), and will soon start detecting them in real-time. With its astonishingly huge field-of-view (~300-1000 deg2) and electronic steering capability the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) is an ideal instrument for conducting rapid follow-ups of FRBs. Low-frequency detections are crucial not just for characterizing their spectral and scattering characteristics, but also for excluding certain classes of progenitor models.
This PhD project will focus on maturing a capability currently under development at the MWA to receive and respond to the trigger alerts from premier facilities such as ASKAP and Parkes. This will enable some unique science relating to FRB emission, as well as their propagation and progenitor models. This will go a long way in advancing our understanding of these mysterious sources.

Co-Supervisors

Dr Steven Tremblay

Postdoctoral Fellow (CAASTRO)

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Dr Ryan Shannon

Research Fellow

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A/Prof Randall Wayth

Associate Professor

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