4 July 2017
Europe/Berlin timezone
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MPIfR - 0.02

How to make fast radio bursts smile for the photograph


  • Leonard HOUBEN

Primary authors



Fast radio bursts (FRBs) are a new radio transient phenomena that puzzles scientists over their nature. These millisecond, Janksky bright single pulses are seen with dispersion measures (DMs) several times larger then those caused by the electron density in our own Milky Way and therefore thought to be of extra-galactic origin. Their non-repetitive behaviour (only one FRB has seen to repeat thus far) and the majority being single-dish detections make it hard to pinpoint their exact location on the sky and deduce which sources produce them. Efforts by the MPIfR and Radboud University try to resolve this issue using the unique properties of LOFAR to catch and image the dispersion tail of the same FRB as detected in real-time with the Effelsberg Telescope. Detection of the same FRB is possible because of the large dispersive delay between the two observatories of several seconds to a few minutes. Once LOFAR receives a trigger from Effelsberg upon the detection of an FRB in the later, LOFAR's Transient Buffer Boards (TBBs) are frozen and read out to obtain low frequency, high time and frequency resolution data of the burst. Due to LOFAR's long baselines this data can then be used to image the detected FRB and localise it down to several arc-seconds. A multitude of so localised FRBs might shed some light on their progenitors and unravel their nature.