RUI Collaborative Research: Commensal All-sky Imaging of Low-Frequency Transients with EPIC

Project: Research project

Project Details


This proposal seeks NSF support to expand the science capabilities of a fast all-sky radio imaging correlator architecture we have deployed on the Long Wavelength Array at Sevilleta (LWA-SV). By directly imaging the channelized voltage signals from antennas, we are able to create images of the full sky on millisecond time scales This time resolution is achieved using a technique that reduces the typical radio imaging scaling from O(N2) to O(N logN) while placing no restrictions on antenna layout. The GPU-based back-end already implemented on LWA-SV has potential to open the door for a variety of fast-transient studies at low frequencies including pulsars, prompt
radio counterparts to gravitational wave events, interplanetary scintillation, and searches for Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs). We will expand the capabilities of this experiment and realize its scientic potential by 1) improving operating bandwidth, 2) enabling trigger capture, 3) developing a transient detection module, 4) coordinating commensal observing with other facilities, and 5) regular monitoring of sources of interest.
Intellectual Merit
The last several years have seen many breakthroughs in low-frequency (. 1:4 GHz) time-domain astronomy, and many more discoveries are on the horizon. Studying FRBs can yield insight into the complex explosive events that source the bursts themselves as well as probe matter on cosmological scales. The binary neutron star mergers that have been observe through gravitational waves are predicted to also generate prompt radio emission at low frequencies, and detection will probe the magnetic environment close to the merger. Low frequency observations of pulsars will improve pulsar timing eorts which are used to search for low-frequency gravitational waves. More locally, low frequency observatories are crucial for understanding interplanetary and ionospheric scintillation caused by space weather. Driving by the need for high sensitivity, radio observatories are trending towards thousands to tens of thousands of antenna elements. The imaging algorithm we utilize here is an experimental
technique that promises to alleviate the harsh computational scaling as arrays grow. Not only will this project make strides in several directions of low-frequency transient science, but we will also mature the method for use on future observatories.
Broader Impacts
We will expand the Research Experience for Non-Traditional Undergraduates (RENTU) program started at ASU. The goal is to enhance participation of underrepresented minority and non-traditional undergraduates in STEM elds by oering research experiences that are catered to the specic needs of the students. We recognize that traditional REU-type opportunities are not always practical for students who have nancial or family obligations that preclude them from leaving home for months at a time. RENTU is a student-rst program where we focus on a) recruiting promising students, b) catering projects to match their needs and strengths, c) build community through cohorts, and d) oer mentorship and training to integrate students into research groups. We will expand the program to include UNM and WSU in addition to ASU. Our three institutions are excellent locations for this program to have a large impact. More than half of ASU's Liberal Arts and Sciences students are transfer students, the student body at WSU is 40% rst generation, and almost half of UNM's undergraduate students are hispanic/latino. Each institution will support students in their local group while complementing with the wider remote cohort. The expanded RENTU program will continue our previous successes recruiting and training non-traditional undergraduate students to help strengthen and diversify the STEM workforce.
Effective start/end date9/1/218/31/24


  • National Science Foundation (NSF): $646,951.00


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