V-FASTR: The VLBA fast radio transients experiment

Randall B. Wayth, Walter F. Brisken, Adam T. Deller, Walid A. Majid, David R. Thompson, Steven J. Tingay, Kiri L. Wagstaff

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49 Scopus citations


Recent discoveries of dispersed, non-periodic impulsive radio signals with single-dish radio telescopes have sparked significant interest in exploring the relatively uncharted space of fast transient radio signals. Here we describe V-FASTR, an experiment to perform a blind search for fast transient radio signals using the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA). The experiment runs entirely in a commensal mode, alongside normal VLBA observations and operations. It is made possible by the features and flexibility of the DiFX software correlator that is used to process VLBA data. Using the VLBA for this type of experiment offers significant advantages over single-dish experiments, including a larger field of view, the ability to easily distinguish local radio-frequency interference from real signals, and the possibility to localize detected events on the sky to milliarcsecond accuracy. We describe our software pipeline, which accepts short integration ( ms) spectrometer data from each antenna in real time during correlation and performs an incoherent dedispersion separately for each antenna, over a range of trial dispersion measures. The dedispersed data are processed by a sophisticated detector and candidate events are recorded. At the end ofthe correlation, small snippets of the raw data at the time of the events are stored for further analysis. We present the results of our event detection pipeline from some test observations of the pulsars B0329+54 and B0531+21 (the Crab pulsar).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number97
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 10 2011


  • methods: observational
  • pulsars: general
  • radio continuum: general


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