Performance of a novel fast transients detection system
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Copyright © 2013 The American Astronomical Society
We investigate the signal-to-noise ratio (S/N) of a new incoherent dedispersion algorithm optimized for FPGA-based architectures intended for deployment on the Australian SKA Pathfinder and other Square Kilometre Array precursors for fast transients surveys. Unlike conventional CPU- and GPU-optimized incoherent dedispersion algorithms, this algorithm has the freedom to maximize the S/N by way of programmable dispersion profiles that enable the inclusion of different numbers of time samples per spectral channel. This allows, for example, more samples to be summed at lower frequencies where intra-channel dispersion smearing is larger, or it could even be used to optimize the dedispersion sum for steep spectrum sources. Our analysis takes into account the intrinsic pulse width, scatter broadening, spectral index and dispersion measure of the signal, and the system's frequency range, spectral and temporal resolution, and number of trial dedispersions. We show that the system achieves better than 80% of the optimal S/N where the temporal resolution and the intra-channel smearing time are smaller than a quarter of the average width of the pulse across the system's frequency band (after including scatter smearing). Coarse temporal resolutions suffer a Δt –1/2 decay in S/N, and coarse spectral resolutions cause a Δv–1/2 decay in S/N, where Δt and Δv are the temporal and spectral resolutions of the system, respectively. We show how the system's S/N compares with that of matched filter and boxcar filter detectors. We further present a new algorithm for selecting trial dispersion measures for a survey that maintains a given minimum S/N performance across a range of dispersion measures.
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