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LOFAR Transients KSP Strategy

LOFAR Transients KSP Strategy

Rob Fender
LOFAR and the Transient Radio Sky, Amsterdam, December 2008



June 18, 2012


  1. The LOFAR Transients KSP Strategy and SKA context Rob Fender

    (Southampton and Amsterdam) on behalf of the KSP
  2. LOFAR Transients in the context of SKA and its pathfinders

  3. 2008


  5. Pathfinders towards a three-pronged SKA

  6. Large collecting area x vast field of view x multiple

    beams = unprecedented survey speed (while maintaining arcsec resolution)  Very deep and wide surveys / all-sky monitoring for transients LOFAR: survey machine and transient monitor (SCUBA-2, ALMA fields of view smaller than one pixel)
  7. Single dipole Station + beamforming Correlation of different stations Multiple

    beams (1—8 beams in 32 MHz total bandwidth) BlueGene How LOFAR works in a nutshell 3 Gb/sec/station
  8. LOFAR will provide the first Radio Sky Monitor monitoring all

    transient and variable radio phenomena Accreting black holes / neutron stars / GRB afterglows Pulsars : LOFAR will at least double the number of known pulsars Extrasolar planets, active flare stars Counterparts to GW sources – tests of gravity on cosmological scales Serendipity, SETI …. Transients with LOFAR
  9. LOFAR Transients science working groups JETS (Sera Markoff) this afternoon

    Accreting binaries, YSOs, rapid AGN variability PULSARS (Ben Stappers) this afternoon Pulsar / friends of pulsars survey / monitoring FLARE STARS (Rachel Osten) tomorrow Active stars, brown dwarfs PLANETS (Philippe Zarka) tomorrow Solar system and extrasolar planetary radio bursts coherent synchrotron
  10. LOFAR transients 'modes' • 1. Radio Sky Monitor Monitoring of

    a large fraction of the sky ~daily 2. Targetted surveys -- e.g. for pulsars, nearby star systems, known active/interesting systems, monitoring of Virgo cluster, follow-up of new transients 3. Piggybacking Search all LOFAR observations with our automated tools (Tuesday afternoon) → we need to split our time allocation over 1. and 2.
  11. Proposed ~daily monitoring with LOFAR RSM 25% of the sky

    in 24 hr ~1 mJy rms (120 MHz) ~10 mJy rms (30 MHz) Or entire visible sky at 50-100% worse SNR Is this enough sky coverage ?
  12. ANOTHER NEW TOOL: The transient buffer what was going on

    over there 20 seconds ago ? Record all raw data in RAM buffers (per 8 antennae). Possibility to reform images in any direction on the sky up to n seconds in the past, where n = 1 / (bandwidth / 40 MHz) -- at a sampling rate of up to 200 Msamples/s (Nyquist) This mode may be used in response to both ‘internal’ or – with more difficulty - ‘external’ triggers. This will be a tool employed to search for very rapid events: (i.e. ‘coherent’ events)
  13. Pipeline detects transient >>99% certain? yes no Public alert on

    LOFAR Transients VOEventNet channel Alert communicated only to 'partners' and is not made public In both cases we will communicate as much information as possible [coords, spectrum, polarization, preliminary classification] in VO-compatible xml format → lots of public alerts for 'free' but follow-up / partner observations proprietary
  14. RSM data → Transients pipeline → Transient detected [localised to

    ~arcmin / alert via VOEventNet or 'sub prime' channel] Full array override → radio spectrum / arcsec localization External trigger (e.g. MAGIC, MAXI..)
  15. Links to other KSPs Surveys Very clear potential overlap –

    we can use their data and vice versa Solar High time-resolution modes for coherent sources very similar to those required for solar flare monitoring Cosmic rays Use of the transient buffers Magnetism Polarisation a key diagnostic for transient classification
  16. Summary LOFAR is a key wide-field instrument for the detection

    of transients, especially coherent events, and the low-freq component of the SKA may be very similar We aim to tackle transient and variable sources in the LOFAR data in the most flexible and open way we can (we cannot keep all the events to ourselves!) Further discussion Wednesday afternoon