skip to main content


The NSF Public Access Repository (NSF-PAR) system and access will be unavailable from 11:00 PM ET on Thursday, June 13 until 2:00 AM ET on Friday, June 14 due to maintenance. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Title: A Clock Stabilization System for CHIME/FRB Outriggers

The Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) has emerged as the prime telescope for detecting fast radio bursts (FRBs). CHIME/FRB Outriggers will be a dedicated very-long-baseline interferometry (VLBI) instrument consisting of outrigger telescopes at continental baselines working with CHIME and its specialized real-time transient-search backend (CHIME/FRB) to detect and localize FRBs with 50 mas precision. In this paper, we present a minimally invasive clock stabilization system that effectively transfers the CHIME digital backend reference clock from its original GPS-disciplined ovenized crystal oscillator to a passive hydrogen maser. This enables us to combine the long-term stability and absolute time tagging of the GPS clock with the short- and intermediate-term stability of the maser to reduce the clock timing errors between VLBI calibration observations. We validate the system with VLBI-style observations of Cygnus A over a 400 m baseline between CHIME and the CHIME Pathfinder, demonstrating agreement between sky-based and maser-based timing measurements at the 30 ps rms level on timescales ranging from one minute to up to nine days, and meeting the stability requirements for CHIME/FRB Outriggers. In addition, we present an alternate reference clock solution for outrigger stations that lack the infrastructure to support a passive hydrogen maser.

more » « less
Award ID(s):
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Publisher / Repository:
DOI PREFIX: 10.3847
Date Published:
Journal Name:
The Astronomical Journal
Medium: X Size: Article No. 48
["Article No. 48"]
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract The Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME)/FRB experiment has detected thousands of fast radio bursts (FRBs) due to its sensitivity and wide field of view; however, its low angular resolution prevents it from localizing events to their host galaxies. Very long baseline interferometry (VLBI), triggered by FRB detections from CHIME/FRB will solve the challenge of localization for non-repeating events. Using a refurbished 10 m radio dish at the Algonquin Radio Observatory located in Ontario Canada, we developed a testbed for a VLBI experiment with a theoretical λ / D ≲ 30 mas. We provide an overview of the 10 m system and describe its refurbishment, the data acquisition, and a procedure for fringe fitting that simultaneously estimates the geometric delay used for localization and the dispersive delay from the ionosphere. Using single pulses from the Crab pulsar, we validate the system and localization procedure, and analyze the clock stability between sites, which is critical for coherently delay referencing an FRB event. We find a localization of ∼200 mas is possible with the performance of the current system (single-baseline). Furthermore, for sources with insufficient signal or restricted wideband to simultaneously measure both geometric and ionospheric delays, we show that the differential ionospheric contribution between the two sites must be measured to a precision of 1 × 10 −8 pc cm −3 to provide a reasonable localization from a detection in the 400–800 MHz band. Finally we show detection of an FRB observed simultaneously in the CHIME and the Algonquin 10 m telescope, the first non-repeating FRB in this long baseline. This project serves as a testbed for the forthcoming CHIME/FRB Outriggers project. 
    more » « less
  2. Abstract

    Fast radio bursts (FRBs) are brief, energetic, typically extragalactic flashes of radio emission whose progenitors are largely unknown. Although studying the FRB population is essential for understanding how these astrophysical phenomena occur, such studies have been difficult to conduct without large numbers of FRBs and characterizable observational biases. Using the recently released catalog of 536 FRBs published by the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment/Fast Radio Burst (CHIME/FRB) collaboration, we present a study of the FRB population that also calibrates for selection effects. Assuming a Schechter function, we infer a characteristic energy cut-off ofEchar=2.381.64+5.35×1041erg and a differential power-law index ofγ=1.30.4+0.7. Simultaneously, we infer a volumetric rate of [7.33.8+8.8(stat.)1.8+2.0(sys.)]×104Gpc−3yr−1above a pivot energy of 1039erg and below a scattering timescale of 10 ms at 600 MHz, and find we cannot significantly constrain the cosmic evolution of the FRB population with star-formation rate. Modeling the host’s dispersion measure (DM) contribution as a log-normal distribution and assuming a total Galactic contribution of 80 pc cm−3, we find a median value ofDMhost=8449+69pc cm−3, comparable with values typically used in the literature. Proposed models for FRB progenitors should be consistent with the energetics and abundances of the full FRB population predicted by our results. Finally, we infer the redshift distribution of FRBs detected with CHIME, which will be tested with the localizations and redshifts enabled by the upcoming CHIME/FRB Outriggers project.

    more » « less
  3. Abstract

    In recent years, the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) interferometer has revealed a large number of fast radio bursts (FRBs), including a sizable population that demonstrates repeating behavior. This transit facility, employing a real-time FRB search pipeline, continually scans the sky with declinations between −10° and 90° for events with fluences ⪆0.4 Jy ms. We simulate a population of repeating FRBs by performing Monte Carlo simulations of underlying source populations processed through a mock CHIME/FRB observing pipeline. Assuming intrinsic repeater rates follow a Poisson distribution, we test assumptions about the burst populations of the repeater sample, and construct models of the FRB sample assuming various cosmological distributions. We infer the completeness of CHIME/FRB observations as a function of observing cadence and redshifts out to 0.5. We find that, if all simulated bursts have a fixed Poisson probability of repetition over their integrated time of observation, repeating burst detections across comoving volume should continue to grow near linearly on the order of decades. We predict that around 170 of the current CHIME/FRB one-off sources will ultimately repeat. We also make projections for FRB repeaters by future facilities and demonstrate that the number of repeaters they find could saturate on a ∼3 yr timescale.

    more » « less
  4. Abstract

    We present the first X-ray census of fast radio burst (FRB) host galaxies to conduct the deepest search for active galactic nuclei (AGN) and X-ray counterparts to date. Our sample includes seven well-localized FRBs with unambiguous host associations and existing deep Chandra observations, including two events for which we present new observations. We find evidence for AGN in two FRB host galaxies based on the presence of X-ray emission coincident with their centers, including the detection of a luminous (LX≈ 5 × 1042erg s−1) X-ray source at the nucleus of FRB 20190608B’s host, for which we infer an SMBH mass ofMBH∼ 108Mand an Eddington ratioLbol/LEdd≈ 0.02, characteristic of geometrically thin disks in Seyfert galaxies. We also report nebular emission-line fluxes for 24 highly secure FRB hosts (including 10 hosts for the first time), and assess their placement on a BPT diagram, finding that FRB hosts trace the underlying galaxy population. We further find that the hosts of repeating FRBs are not confined to the star-forming locus, contrary to previous findings. Finally, we place constraints on associated X-ray counterparts to FRBs in the context of ultraluminous X-ray sources (ULXs), and find that existing X-ray limits for FRBs rule out ULXs brighter thanLX≳ 1040erg s−1. Leveraging the CHIME/FRB catalog and existing ULX catalogs, we search for spatially coincident ULX–FRB pairs. We identify a total of 28 ULXs spatially coincident with the localization regions for 17 FRBs, but find that the DM-inferred redshifts for the FRBs are inconsistent with the ULX redshifts, disfavoring an association between these specific ULX–FRB pairs.

    more » « less

    The physical properties of fast radio burst (FRB) host galaxies provide important clues towards the nature of FRB sources. The 16 FRB hosts identified thus far span three orders of magnitude in mass and specific star formation rate, implicating a ubiquitously occurring progenitor object. FRBs localized with ∼arcsecond accuracy also enable effective searches for associated multiwavelength and multi-time-scale counterparts, such as the persistent radio source associated with FRB 20121102A. Here we present a localization of the repeating source FRB 20201124A, and its association with a host galaxy (SDSS J050803.48+260338.0, z = 0.098) and persistent radio source. The galaxy is massive (${\sim}3\times 10^{10}\, \text{M}_{\odot }$), star-forming (few solar masses per year), and dusty. Very Large Array and Very Long Baseline Array observations of the persistent radio source measure a luminosity of 1.2 × 1029 erg s−1 Hz−1, and show that is extended on scales ≳50 mas. We associate this radio emission with the ongoing star formation activity in SDSS J050803.48+260338.0. Deeper, high-resolution optical observations are required to better utilize the milliarcsecond-scale localization of FRB 20201124A and determine the origin of the large dispersion measure (150–220 pc cm−3) contributed by the host. SDSS J050803.48+260338.0 is an order of magnitude more massive than any galaxy or stellar system previously associated with a repeating FRB source, but is comparable to the hosts of so far non-repeating FRBs, further building the link between the two apparent populations.

    more » « less