Detection Rates for Surveys for Fast Transients with Next Generation Radio Arrays
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We relate the underlying properties of a population of fast radio-emitting transient events to its expected detection rate in a survey of finite sensitivity. The distribution of the distances of the detected events is determined in terms of the population luminosity distribution and survey parameters, for both extragalactic and Galactic populations. The detection rate as a function of Galactic position is examined to identify regions that optimize survey efficiency in a survey whose field of view is limited. The impact of temporal smearing caused by scattering in the interstellar medium has a large and direction-dependent bearing on the detection of impulsive signals, and we present a model for the effects of scattering on the detection rate. We show that the detection rate scales as ΩS –3/2 + δ 0, where Ω is the field of view, S 0 is the minimum detectable flux density, and 0 < δ ≤ 3/2 for a survey of Galactic transients in which interstellar scattering or the finite volume of the Galaxy is important. We derive formal conditions on the optimal survey strategy to adopt under different circumstances for fast transient surveys on next generation large-element, wide-field arrays, such as ASKAP, LOFAR, the MWA, and the SKA, and show how interstellar scattering and the finite spatial extent of a Galactic population modify the choice of optimal strategy.
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