VAST - a real-time pipeline for detecting radio transients and variables on the Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP) telescope

Jay Banyer (University of Sydney), Tara Murphy (University of Sydney)


The Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP) is a next-generation radio telescope currently under construction in Western Australia. The fast survey speed and wide field of view make it an ideal instrument for blind transients searches. The ASKAP Variable and Slow Transients (VAST) survey is a one of the major science programs planned for ASKAP. The scientific goals of VAST include the detection and characterisation of a wide range of transient and variable phenomena, from gamma-ray burst afterglows to extreme scattering events, on timescales of 5 seconds or longer.

I will discuss the data and processing challenges involved in running the VAST real-time transient detection pipeline. The ASKAP telescope will produce 2.5 GB of visibility data each second, transformed into one 8GB image cube every 5 seconds. Each cube will have 4 polarisations and ~30 x 10 MHz frequency channels, with 1000s of radio sources detected in each epoch. The VAST pipeline will measure and monitor all of these sources, detect variables and transients and generate alerts using the VOEvent framework.

Part of the VAST project involves the development of a prototype pipeline to establish and demonstrate the functionality of the final ASKAP pipeline. I will give an overview of the prototype pipeline's functionality, technical implementation and current status.

Slides in PDF format

Paper ID: O04

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