2017-A, Compact

Approved Proposals

IDPITitleDetailsTime awarded (hours)
G0001Bell, Martin(continuation) The MWA Transients Survey (MWATS)
80 (commensal with G0008)
G0002Cairns, Iver; Oberoi, Divya(continuation) MWA Observations of Solar Radio Bursts and the Quiet Sun
G0004Kaplan, David(continuation) Monitoring the Galaxy with the MWA
G0005Murphy, Tara(continuation) Search for Variable and Transient Sources in the EOR Fields with the MWA
730 (commensal with G0009)
G0008Hurley-Walker, Natasha(continuation) GaLactic and Extragalactic All-Sky MWA-eXtended (GLEAM-X) survey: Pilot observations
G0009Webster, Rachel(continuation) Epoch of Reionisation
G0021Bhat, Ramesh(continuation) Tracking Interstellar Space Weather Toward Timing-Array Millisecond Pulsars
G0034Bhat, RameshLow Frequency Shadowing of the Parkes SUPERB Survey

Authors: Bhat, N. D. R.; Ord, S. M.; Tremblay, S. E.; Shannon, R. M.; van Straten, W.; Kaplan, D. L.; Macquart, J.-P.; Kirsten, F.

Abstract: The recent LIGO detection of milli-Hertz gravitational wave (GW) signals from black-hole merger events has further reinforced the important role of Pulsar timing array (PTA) experiments in the GW astronomy. PTAs exploit the clock-like stability of fast-spinning millisecond pulsars (MSPs) to make a direct detection of ultra-low frequency (nano-Hertz) gravitational waves, and this is a key science objective for the SKA. The science enabled by PTAs is highly complementary to that possible with LIGO-like detectors. PTA efforts of the past few years clearly suggest that interstellar propagation effects on pulsar signals may ultimately limit the detection sensitivity of PTAs if they are not accurately measured and corrected for in timing measurements. Interstellar medium (ISM) effects are much stronger at lower radio frequencies and therefore the MWA presents an exciting and unique opportunity to calibrate interstellar propagation delays. This will potentially lead to enhanced sensitivity and scientific impact of PTA projects.

Since our demonstration early this year of our ability to form a coherent (tied-array) beam by re-processing the recorded VCS data (Bhat et al. 2016), we have successfully ported the full processing pipeline on to the Galaxy cluster of Pawsey and also demonstrated the value of high-sensitivity multi-band pulsar observations that are now possible with the MWA. Here we propose further observations of three most promising PTA pulsars that will be nightly objects in the 2017A period. The main science driver is to characterise the nature of the turbulent ISM through high-quality scintillation and dispersion studies including the investigation of chromatic (frequency-dependent) DMs. Success of these efforts will define the breadth and scope of a more ambitious program in the future, bringing in a new science niche for MWA and SKA-low.

G0035Lynch, ChristeneMWA targeted campaign of nearby, flaring M dwarf stars

Authors: Lynch, C.; Murphy, T.; Kaplan, D. L.

Abstract: Flaring activity is a common characteristic of magnetically active stellar systems. Flare events produce emission throughout the electromagnetic spectrum, implying a range of physical processes. Early 100 - 200 MHz observations of M dwarf flare stars detected bright (>100 mJy) flares with occurrence rates between 0.06 - 0.8 flares per hour. These rates imply that observing 100 - 200 MHz flares from M dwarf stars is fairly easy with many detections expected for modern low-frequency telescopes. However, long observational campaigns using these modern telescopes have not reproduced these early detections. This could be because the rates are over estimated and contaminated by radio frequency interference. Recently Lynch et al. (submitted) detected four flares from UV Ceti at 154 MHz using the Murchison Widefield Array. The flares have flux densities between 10-65 mJy --- a factor of 100 fainter than most flares in the literature at these frequencies --- and are only detected in circular polarization. The flare rates for these newly detected flares are roughly consistent with earlier rates however the uncertainties are large. Building off this result we propose a 102 hour survey of the closet six M dwarf stars with observed magnetic activity traced in X-rays and 100 - 200 MHz emission. The rates measured from this survey would inform the duration required for future blind surveys for flares from M dwarf stars.

G0036Allison, JamesHIghZ: A search for HI absorption in high-redshift radio galaxies

Authors: Allison, J.; Callingham, J.; Sadler, E.; Wayth, R.; Curran, S.; Mahoney, E.

Abstract: We will use the unique low-frequency spectral capability of the MWA to carry out a pilot survey for neutral gas in the interstellar medium of the most distant (z>5) radio galaxies in the Universe. Through detection of the HI 21-cm line in absorption we aim to place stringent lower limits on the source redshift, confirming its location in the early Universe. Our sample makes use of the excellent wide-band spectral information available from the recently completed MWA GLEAM survey, from which we have selected a sample of ultra-steep peaked-spectrum radio sources that have a spectral turnover below 300 MHz. These sources should be ideal candidates for high-redshift compact radio galaxies since they have (a) spectral peaks that turnover below 1GHz and (b) very steep (alpha < -1.0) spectral indices that are consistent with the high density environments expected for radio galaxies in the early Universe. Using the MWA, we aim to verify this hypothesis through the detection of significant column densities of cold HI. This pathfinder project will provide important technical information that will inform future absorption surveys both with the MWA and, ultimately, the SKA-LOW telescope.

G0037Sadler, ElaineA search for HI absorption in the z=5.2 radio galaxy TN 0924-2201

Authors: Sadler, E.; Allison, J.; Curran, S.; Wayth, R.

Abstract: We request time to use the MWA in spectral-line mode to search for redshifted 21 cm HI absorption associated with the distant, gas-rich radio galaxy TN 0924-2201. This is a challenging project that breaks new ground in high-redshift HI studies and aims to pave the way for future blind HI absorption surveys with the extended MWA.

TN 0924-2201 is the highest-redshift radio galaxy currently known, with a confirmed spectroscopic redshift of z=5.2 (van Breugel et al. 1999) and a continuum flux density of 550 mJy at 230 MHz. Klamer et al. (2005) detected CO 1-0 emission from this galaxy, and found that it contains a large (~1e11 solar mass) reservoir of molecular gas. The redshift of this galaxy places the 21cm HI line within the MWA band, and the brightness of the continuum source (coupled with the presence of molecular gas) makes this the most promising test case in which to search for 21cm HI absorption with the MWA. Detection of an HI line in this distant galaxy appears feasible, and if successful this would be a very high-profile result for MWA. It would also provide an important proof of concept for future large, HI-based searches for high-redshift radio galaxies with MWA and SKA1-low.

G0038Meyers, Bradley(continuation) Sporadically Emitting Pulsars at Low Frequencies

Xue, MengyaoFilling the gap of existing MWA-VCS archival data

Authors: Xue, M.; Bhat, R.; Tremblay, S.; Ord, S.; Sobey, C.; Kirsten, F.

Abstract: Since July 2014, around 110 hours of high time resolution voltage data observed by MWA Voltage Capture System (VCS; Tremblay et al. 2015) have been archived on tapes in the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre. Except some short duration test data and calibration data, the total amount of the observation data which have a duration longer than 400 s is 84 hours. These data cover a significant portion of a lot of the Southern sky and could be used for many science purposes including radio pulsars census and fast radio bursts (FRBs) searching. But there are still some 'holes' in the sky that we do not have VCS archival data for yet. We are proposing a set of MWA-VCS drift scan observations of 3 hours to fill some of these ’holes’ and help provide a more complete MWA-VCS data set. We will also census known (cataloged) pulsars in these areas. These observations would be performed between 170-200 MHz. This project will form part of the PhD program of Mengyao Xue.

3 (partially commensal with G0038)

Hurley-Walker, NatashaApplying SPAM to the extended MWA

Authors: Hurley-Walker, N.; Intema, H.

Abstract: The extended baselines of the MWA move the instrument into a more difficult calibration and imaging regime, where the more widely-separated antennas are more likely to view the sky through different ionospheric conditions, leading to differential refractive effects over the array. Current extrapolations by Trott, Jordan, and Hurley-Walker imply that the diffractive scale will remain larger than the longest baseline for ~50-70% of observations, but these are extrapolations only.

Other instruments have performed observations with baselines longer than the diffractive scale, and used software techniques to mitigate the ionospheric distortions. One such survey is the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope Sky Survey (TGSS) at 150 MHz. Intema et al. (2016) used the Source Peeling & Atmospheric Modeling (SPAM) software to produce a catalogue of over 600,000 sources from data that had previously been slow and difficult to process.

This proposal is for a short series of observations to test the usage of the SPAM software on the extended MWA, and to find the optimal observing parameters for its use. If successful, this could assist other groups in effectively utilising the long baselines.