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We present the third data release from the Parkes Pulsar Timing Array (PPTA) project. The release contains observations of 32 pulsars obtained using the 64-m Parkes “Murriyang” radio telescope. The data span is up to 18 years with a typical cadence of 3 weeks. This data release is formed by combining an updated version of our second data release with ∼ 3 years of more recent data primarily obtained using an ultra-wide-bandwidth receiver system that operates between 704 and 4032 MHz. We provide calibrated pulse profiles, flux-density dynamic spectra, pulse times of arrival, and initial pulsar timing models. We describe methods for processing such wide-bandwidth observations, and compare this data release with our previous release.
We describe 14 yr of public data from the Parkes Pulsar Timing Array (PPTA), an ongoing project that is producing precise measurements of pulse times of arrival from 26 millisecond pulsars using the 64-m Parkes radio telescope with a cadence of approximately 3 weeks in three observing bands. A comprehensive description of the pulsar observing systems employed at the telescope since 2004 is provided, including the calibration methodology and an analysis of the stability of system components. We attempt to provide full accounting of the reduction from the raw measured Stokes parameters to pulse times of arrival to aid third parties in reproducing our results. This conversion is encapsulated in a processing pipeline designed to track provenance. Our data products include pulse times of arrival for each of the pulsars along with an initial set of pulsar parameters and noise models. The calibrated pulse profiles and timing template profiles are also available. These data represent almost 21 000 h of recorded data spanning over 14 yr. After accounting for processes that induce time-correlated noise, 22 of the pulsars have weighted root-mean-square timing residuals of
in at least one radio band. The data should allow end users to quickly undertake their own gravitational wave analyses, for example, without having to understand the intricacies of pulsar polarisation calibration or attain a mastery of radio frequency interference mitigation as is required when analysing raw data files.
We describe an ultra-wide-bandwidth, low-frequency receiver recently installed on the Parkes radio telescope. The receiver system provides continuous frequency coverage from 704 to 4032 MHz. For much of the band (
), the system temperature is approximately 22 K and the receiver system remains in a linear regime even in the presence of strong mobile phone transmissions. We discuss the scientific and technical aspects of the new receiver, including its astronomical objectives, as well as the feed, receiver, digitiser, and signal processor design. We describe the pipeline routines that form the archive-ready data products and how those data files can be accessed from the archives. The system performance is quantified, including the system noise and linearity, beam shape, antenna efficiency, polarisation calibration, and timing stability.
Radio pulsars have been responsible for many astonishing astrophysical and fundamental physics breakthroughs since their discovery 50 years ago. In this review I will discuss many of the highlights, most of which were only possible because of the provision of large-scale observing facilities. The next 50 years of pulsar astronomy can be very bright, but only if our governments properly plan and fund the infrastructure necessary to enable future discoveries. Being a small sub-field of astronomy places an onus on the pulsar community to have an open-source/open access approach to data, software, and major observing facilities to enable new groups to emerge to keep the field vibrant.
Digital signal processing is one of many valuable tools for suppressing unwanted signals or inter-ference. Building hardware processing engines seems to be the way to best implement some classes of interference suppression but is, unfortunately, expensive and time-consuming, especially if several miti-gation techniques need to be compared. Simulations can be useful, but are not a substitute for real data. CSIRO’s Australia Telescope National Facility has recently commenced a ‘software radio telescope’ project designed to fill the gap between dedicated hardware processors and pure simulation. In this approach, real telescope data are recorded coherently, then processed offline. This paper summarises the current contents of a freely available database of base band recorded data that can be used to experiment with signal processing solutions. It includes data from the following systems: single dish, multi-feed receiver; single dish with reference antenna; and an array of six 22 m antennas with and without a reference antenna. Astronomical sources such as OH masers, pulsars and continuum sources subject to interfering signals were recorded. The interfering signals include signals from the US Global Positioning System (GPS) and its Russian equivalent (GLONASS), television, microwave links, a low-Earth-orbit satellite, various other transmitters, and signals leaking from local telescope systems with fast clocks. The data are available on compact disk, allowing use in general purpose computers or as input to laboratory hardware prototypes.
The future of centimetre and metre-wave astronomy lies with the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), a telescope under development by a consortium of 17 countries that will be 50 times more sensitive than any existing radio facility. Most of the key science for the SKA will be addressed through large-area imaging of the Universe at frequencies from a few hundred MHz to a few GHz. The Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP) is a technology demonstrator aimed in the mid-frequency range, and achieves instantaneous wide-area imaging through the development and deployment of phased-array feed systems on parabolic reflectors. The large field-of-view makes ASKAP an unprecedented synoptic telescope that will make substantial advances in SKA key science. ASKAP will be located at the Murchison Radio Observatory in inland Western Australia, one of the most radio-quiet locations on the Earth and one of two sites selected by the international community as a potential location for the SKA. In this paper, we outline an ambitious science program for ASKAP, examining key science such as understanding the evolution, formation and population of galaxies including our own, understanding the magnetic Universe, revealing the transient radio sky and searching for gravitational waves.
We present the results from nearly three years of monitoring of the variations in dispersion measure (DM) along the line-of-sight to 11 millisecond pulsars using the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT). These results demonstrate accuracies of single epoch DM estimates of the order of 5 × 10−4 cm−3 pc. A preliminary comparison with the Parkes Pulsar Timing Array (PPTA) data shows that the measured DM fluctuations are comparable. We show effects of DM variations due to the solar wind and solar corona and compare with the existing models.
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.
Pulsar timing has proven to be a wonderful tool with which to study neutron stars, providing insights into their ages, distances, proper motions, magnetic field strengths, internal structure, binary histories and evolution, and for tests of General Relativity. Here I describe how to optimise strategies for millisecond pulsar timing to enable the highest timing precision.
The Caltech-Parkes-Swinburne Recorder (CPSR) was installed at the Parkes Radio-telescope in August of 1998. It is capable of continuously two-bit quadrature-sampling a 20 MHz bandpass in two polarizations, though other configurations are possible. Since its successful installation, over 17 Terabytes of observational data have been recorded. These data were processed using the Swinburne Baseband Processing System (SBPS), a suite of data management and reduction software executed using a Beowulf-style cluster of high-performance workstations. A description of CPSR and SBPS is presented herein, followed by a brief presentation of some results from the past year of observations, and an outline of possible future uses of the system.
Lyne & Lorimer (1994) recently demonstrated that revisions to the pulsar distance scale, coupled with new interferometric measurements of pulsar proper motions and a better treatment of selection effects, indicate that typical pulsar velocities are of the order 450 km s−1. This is between a factor of 2–4 greater than most estimates made over the last decade. This paper looks at the implications of these higher velocities for the various theories about their origin. An extremely simple argument is used to place a fairly rigid upper limit for the rate at which neutron star pairs merge of 10−5 yr−1 in the Galaxy. It appears inevitable that an extremely large fraction of binaries containing neutron stars coalesce during the common-envelope stage of massive binary evolution.
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