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Project area/S

  • Fast Transients and Pulsars

Project Details

Pulsars are rapidly rotating, highly dense neutron stars that emit beams of radiation along their magnetic axes which we detect as a series of short-duration pulses in the radio part of the electromagnetic spectrum. While they have been exploited for wide-ranging applications in physics and astrophysics, the physical processes that give rise to this electromagnetic radiation remain unknown. Each observed pulse is different, indicative of strong turbulence in the relativistic plasma that surrounds these objects. Interestingly, individual pulses are generally very strongly linearly polarised, providing a vital clue as to unlocking the physical mechanisms that generate them. Equally interesting is the fact that the angle of the polarisation can switch (apparently at random) between two orthogonal states, a phenomenon which still defies explanation even after 50 years since these objects were discovered.

PSR B0031-07 is a well-studied long-period pulsar that exhibits interesting single-pulse phenomenology, including orthogonal polarisation modes (OPMs). In this project, you will test the hypothesis that the pulsar’s circularly polarised emission is the result of the coherent superposition of its two OPMs. If true, this will allow us to constrain models of the pulsar’s surrounding plasma.
This project uses high time resolution, full polarisation data from the Murchison Widefield Array telescope, Australia’s Pre-cursor for the international Square Kilometre Array telescope.

Student Attributes

Academic Background

Enrolled in a physics/astronomy course

Computing Skills
Some programming experience (e.g. Python, MATLAB)

Training Requirement
Pulsar analysis software

Project Timeline

  • Week 1 Inductions and project introduction
  • Week 2 Initial Presentation
  • Week 3 Become acquainted with data, processing tools
  • Week 4 Algorithm Implementation
  • Week 5 Algorithm Implementation
  • Week 6 Process/explore data
  • Week 7 Process/explore data
  • Week 8 Analysis
  • Week 9 Final Presentation
  • Week 10 Final Report


Dr Ramesh Bhat

Senior Research Fellow

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