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One of 128 tiles belonging to the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) radio telescope, located in the Western Australian outback. Credit: N. Hurley-Walker.

One of 128 tiles belonging to the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) radio telescope, located in the Western Australian outback. Credit: N. Hurley-Walker.

Gamma-Ray Bursts occur either when a massive star undergoes core collapse or two neutron stars merge. In either case there is a short period in which a huge amount of material is accreted onto a newly formed black hole, and a very powerful jet of gamma-rays is squirted out into space. For a small fraction of these events the jet is aimed toward the Earth where it can be detected by gamma-ray satellites such as Fermi and Swift. These space missions then send immediate alerts to a network on the ground, allowing telescopes such as the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) to rapidly begin observing the event.

For the last 3 years the MWA has been automatically responding to GRBs detected by the Fermi and Swift satellites, obtaining over 700 observations within 30 minutes of the explosion. An automated pipeline is in place to download and process all these data and make the required images. In this project you will create and analyse radio images to look for signs of prompt GRB radio emission – something that has never been seen before at radio frequencies. This project will help build your programming and time management skills, and will allow you to work on the Pawsey supercomputers.

PDF Project proposal and timeline

Co-Supervisor

Dr Gemma Anderson

Research Fellow

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