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The UTMOST: A Hybrid Digital Signal Processor Transforms the Molonglo Observatory Synthesis Telescope

  • M. Bailes (a1) (a2), A. Jameson (a1) (a2), C. Flynn (a1) (a2), T. Bateman (a3) (a4), E. D. Barr (a1) (a2) (a5), S. Bhandari (a1) (a2), J. D. Bunton (a4), M. Caleb (a1) (a2) (a6), D. Campbell-Wilson (a2) (a3), W. Farah (a1), B. Gaensler (a2) (a3) (a7), A. J. Green (a2) (a3), R. W. Hunstead (a3), F. Jankowski (a1) (a2), E. F. Keane (a1) (a2) (a8), V. Venkatraman Krishnan (a1) (a2), Tara Murphy (a2) (a3), M. O’Neill (a1), S. Osłowski (a1), A. Parthasarathy (a1) (a2), V. Ravi (a1) (a2) (a9), P. Rosado (a1) and D. Temby (a3)...

Abstract

The Molonglo Observatory Synthesis Telescope (MOST) is an 18000 m2 radio telescope located 40 km from Canberra, Australia. Its operating band (820–851 MHz) is partly allocated to telecommunications, making radio astronomy challenging. We describe how the deployment of new digital receivers, Field Programmable Gate Array-based filterbanks, and server-class computers equipped with 43 Graphics Processing Units, has transformed the telescope into a versatile new instrument (UTMOST) for studying the radio sky on millisecond timescales. UTMOST has 10 times the bandwidth and double the field of view compared to the MOST, and voltage record and playback capability has facilitated rapid implementaton of many new observing modes, most of which operate commensally. UTMOST can simultaneously excise interference, make maps, coherently dedisperse pulsars, and perform real-time searches of coherent fan-beams for dispersed single pulses. UTMOST operates as a robotic facility, deciding how to efficiently target pulsars and how long to stay on source via real-time pulsar folding, while searching for single pulse events. Regular timing of over 300 pulsars has yielded seven pulsar glitches and three Fast Radio Bursts during commissioning. UTMOST demonstrates that if sufficient signal processing is applied to voltage streams, innovative science remains possible even in hostile radio frequency environments.

Copyright

Corresponding author

10 Email: cflynn@swin.edu.au

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