The Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) is an electronically steered low-frequency (<300 MHz) radio interferometer, with a `slew' time less than 8 s. Low-frequency (∼100 MHz) radio telescopes are ideally suited for rapid response follow-up of transients due to their large field of view, the inverted spectrum of coherent emission, and the fact that the dispersion delay between a 1 GHz and 100 MHz pulse is on the order of 1-10 min for dispersion measures of 100-2000 pc/cm3. The MWA has previously been used to provide fast follow-up for transient events including gamma-ray bursts (GRBs), fast radio bursts (FRBs), and gravitational waves, using systems that respond to gamma-ray coordinates network packet-based notifications. We describe a system for automatically triggering MWA observations of such events, based on Virtual Observatory Event standard triggers, which is more flexible, capable, and accurate than previous systems. The system can respond to external multi-messenger triggers, which makes it well-suited to searching for prompt coherent radio emission from GRBs, the study of FRBs and gravitational waves, single pulse studies of pulsars, and rapid follow-up of high-energy superflares from flare stars. The new triggering system has the capability to trigger observations in both the regular correlator mode (limited to ≥0.5 s integrations) and using the Voltage Capture System (VCS, 0.1 ms integration) of the MWA and represents a new mode of operation for the MWA. The upgraded standard correlator triggering capability has been in use since MWA observing semester 2018B (July-Dec 2018), and the VCS and buffered mode triggers will become available for observing in a future semester.
Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia
- Pub Date:
- Astrophysics - Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics
- 14 pages, 5 figures, accepted for publication in PASA