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The Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) will give us an unprecedented opportunity to investigate the transient sky at radio wavelengths. In this paper we present VAST, an ASKAP survey for Variables and Slow Transients. VAST will exploit the wide-field survey capabilities of ASKAP to enable the discovery and investigation of variable and transient phenomena from the local to the cosmological, including flare stars, intermittent pulsars, X-ray binaries, magnetars, extreme scattering events, interstellar scintillation, radio supernovae, and orphan afterglows of gamma-ray bursts. In addition, it will allow us to probe unexplored regions of parameter space where new classes of transient sources may be detected. In this paper we review the known radio transient and variable populations and the current results from blind radio surveys. We outline a comprehensive program based on a multi-tiered survey strategy to characterise the radio transient sky through detection and monitoring of transient and variable sources on the ASKAP imaging timescales of 5 s and greater. We also present an analysis of the expected source populations that we will be able to detect with VAST.
The discovery of a pulsar or pulsars orbiting near the Galactic Center (GC) could offer an unprecedented probe of strong-field gravity, the properties of our galaxy's supermassive black hole and insights into the paradoxical star formation history of the region. However, searching for pulsars near the GC is severely hampered by the large electron densities along our line of sight and the scattering-induced pulse broadening of the pulsar emission observed through it. As the broadened pulse length approaches the pulsar period, the periodicity in pulsar emission becomes nearly undetectable. Searches extended to higher frequencies, in an effort to reduce scattering, suffer from reduced intrinsic flux, higher system temperatures and increased atmospheric opacity. We are currently attempting to mitigate the challenges associated with searching for pulsars near the GC by employing new wide bandwidth receivers, upgraded IF distribution systems and novel digital spectrometers in a GC pulsar search campaign at the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia, USA.
Our search will cover two frequency bands, from 12-15 GHz (Ku Band) and 18-26 GHz (K Band), during a total of approximately 30 hours of observations, with expected characteristic 10-sigma sensitivities between 5-10 micro-Jy. Our first observations are scheduled for mid-March 2012. Here we will present the status of our observations and initial results.
We present photometry and spectroscopy of the peculiar Type II supernova SN 2010jp, also named PTF10aaxi. The light curve exhibits a linear decline with a relatively low peak absolute magnitude of only −15.9 (unfiltered), and a low radioactive decay luminosity at late times that suggests a low synthesized nickel mass of about 0.003 M⊙ or less. Spectra of SN 2010jp display an unprecedented triple-peaked Hα line profile, showing: (1) a narrow central component that suggests shock interaction with a dense circumstellar medium (CSM); (2) high-velocity blue and red emission features centered at −12,600 and +15,400 km s−1; and (3) very broad wings extending from −22,000 to +25,000 km s−1. We propose that this line profile indicates a bipolar jet-driven explosion, with the central component produced by normal SN ejecta and CSM interaction at mid and low latitudes, while the high-velocity bumps and broad line wings arise in a nonrelativistic bipolar jet. Jet-driven SNe II are predicted for collapsars resulting from a wide range of initial masses above 25 M⊙, especially at the sub-solar metallicity consistent with the SN host environment. It also seems consistent with the apparently low 56Ni mass that may accompany black hole formation. We speculate that the jet survives to produce observable signatures because the star's H envelope was very low mass, having been mostly stripped away by the previous eruptive mass loss.
Radio afterglow observations continue to provide complementary and sometimes unique diagnostics on gamma-ray burst explosions, their progenitors and their environments. In this review we will first describe current search strategies and the observational properties of the detected sample. In the second part of this review we will follow the evolution of a typical radio afterglow, describe the diverse phenomenology that is observed, and interpret these observations within the framework of the fireball model.
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