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Project area/S

  • Accretion physics and slow transients
  • Fast transients and pulsars
  • Data Intensive Astronomy

Project Details

Fast Radio Bursts (FRB) are one of the most intriguing astrophysi-cal phenomena discovered less than 15 years ago. FRBs were discovered and initially observed at frequencies around 1.4 GHz, but the past two years have witnessed some FRBs detected down to ~ 100 MHz frequencies.

The low-frequency Square Kilometre Array (SKA-Low) is the next-generation radio telescope. It will be composed of 512 stations each consisting of 256 dual-polarised antennas and will observe at frequencies between 50 and 350 MHz. In 2019, two prototype stations of the SKA-Low were deployed and the goal of this project is to use high-time resolution images from these stations to look for FRBs at low frequencies.

High-time resolution complex voltages from a single coarse chan-nel (0.93 MHz) from individual antennas within a single station can be cross-correlated to form intra-station visibilites and high time resolution (10 milli-second) images of the entire visible hemi-sphere. The aim is to analyse at least a few hours worth of data and look for FRBs and other types of dispersed radio transients. Even if no FRBs are detected it will allow to derive a preliminary upper limit on the rate of FRBs at low radio-frequencies. We also expect to detect pulses from bright pulsars. The project will also inform future upgrade of the station backend increasing the sen-sitivity to FRBs by two orders of magnitude.

Student Attributes

Academic Background

Programming in scripting languages (bash and python). It may be sufficient if the student is proficient in programming in any other language and can quickly learn python. Astronomy/astrophysics background.

Computing Skills
Python, bash scripting, Linux environment.

Training Requirement
I will recommend the student to participate in the standard PAWSEY training usually provided to summer students as it al-ways has very relevant set of topics covered.

Project Timeline

  • Week 1 Inductions and project introduction
  • Week 2 Initial Presentation
  • Week 3 Getting familiar with the data to be used in the project
  • Week 4 Execution of dispersed transient searches on high-time resolution images from an SKA-Low station
  • Week 5 Verification of efficiency of transient searches in all-sky images using known pulsars (e.g. B0950+08, B0531+21, etc).
  • Week 6 Identification and classification of the identified transient candidates
  • Week 7 Identification and classification of the identified transient candidates
  • Week 8 Based on the results, calculate an FRB rate, that is number of FRBs per day per sky
  • Week 9 Final Presentation
  • Week 10 Final Report


Dr Danny Price

Senior Research Fellow

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