V-FASTR: The VLBA Fast Radio Transients Experiment
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Recent discoveries of dispersed, non-periodic impulsive radio signals with single-dish radio telescopes have sparked significant interest in exploring the relatively uncharted space of fast transient radio signals. Here we describe V-FASTR, an experiment to perform a blind search for fast transient radio signals using the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA). The experiment runs entirely in a commensal mode, alongside normal VLBA observations and operations. It is made possible by the features and flexibility of the DiFX software correlator that is used to process VLBA data. Using the VLBA for this type of experiment offers significant advantages over single-dish experiments, including a larger field of view, the ability to easily distinguish local radio-frequency interference from real signals, and the possibility to localize detected events on the sky to milliarcsecond accuracy. We describe our software pipeline, which accepts short integration (~ms) spectrometer data from each antenna in real time during correlation and performs an incoherent dedispersion separately for each antenna, over a range of trial dispersion measures. The dedispersed data are processed by a sophisticated detector and candidate events are recorded. At the end of the correlation, small snippets of the raw data at the time of the events are stored for further analysis. We present the results of our event detection pipeline from some test observations of the pulsars B0329+54 and B0531+21 (the Crab pulsar).
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Wayth, Randall; Tingay, Steven; Deller, A; Brisken, Walter; Thompson, David; Wagstaff, K; Majid, Walid (2012)We present the first results from the V-FASTR experiment, a commensal search for fast transient radio bursts using the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA). V-FASTR is unique in that the widely spaced VLBA antennas provide a ...
Real Time Adaptive Event Detection in Astronomical Data Streams: Lessons from the Very Long Baseline ArrayThompson, D.; Burke-Spolaor, S.; Deller, A.; Majid, W.; Palaniswamy, D.; Tingay, Steven; Wagstaff, K.; Wayth, Randall (2014)A new generation of observational science instruments is dramatically increasing collected data volumes in a range of fields. These instruments include the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), Large Synoptic Survey Telescope ...
A framework for interpreting fast radio transients search experiments: Application to the V-FASTR experimentsTrott, Cathryn; Tingay, Steven; Wayth, Randall; Thompson, D.; Deller, A.; Brisken, W.; Wagstaff, K.; Majid, W.; Burke-Spolaor, S.; Macquart, Jean-Pierre; Palaniswamy, D. (2013)We define a framework for determining constraints on the detection rate of fast transient events from a population of underlying sources, with a view to incorporate beam shape, frequency effects, scattering effects, and ...