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  1. ABSTRACT

    We present a sample of well-localized fast radio bursts (FRBs) discovered by the MeerTRAP project at the MeerKAT telescope in South Africa. We discovered the three FRBs in single coherent tied-array beams and localized them to an area of ∼1 arcmin2. We investigate their burst properties, scattering, repetition rates, and localizations in a multiwavelength context. FRB 20201211A shows hints of scatter broadening but is otherwise consistent with instrumental dispersion smearing. For FRB 20210202D, we discovered a faint post-cursor burst separated by ∼200 ms, suggesting a distinct burst component or a repeat pulse. We attempt to associate the FRBs with host galaxy candidates. For FRB 20210408H, we tentatively (0.35–0.53 probability) identify a compatible host at a redshift ∼0.5. Additionally, we analyse the MeerTRAP survey properties, such as the survey coverage, fluence completeness, and their implications for the FRB population. Based on the entire sample of 11 MeerTRAP FRBs discovered by the end of 2021, we estimate the FRB all-sky rates and their scaling with the fluence threshold. The inferred FRB all-sky rates at 1.28 GHz are $8.2_{-4.6}^{+8.0}$ and $2.1_{-1.1}^{+1.8} \times 10^3 \: \text{sky}^{-1} \: \text{d}^{-1}$ above 0.66 and 3.44 Jy ms for the coherent and incoherent surveys, respectively. The scaling between the MeerTRAP rates is flatter than at higher fluences at the 1.4σ level. There seems to be a deficit of low-fluence FRBs, suggesting a break or turn-over in the rate versus fluence relation below 2 Jy ms. We speculate on cosmological or progenitor-intrinsic origins. The cumulative source counts within our surveys appear consistent with the Euclidean scaling.

     
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  2. ABSTRACT

    We present the discovery of FRB 20210410D with the MeerKAT radio interferometer in South Africa, as part of the MeerTRAP commensal project. FRB 20210410D has a dispersion measure DM = 578.78 ± 2 ${\rm pc \, cm^{-3}}$ and was localized to subarcsec precision in the 2 s images made from the correlation data products. The localization enabled the association of the FRB with an optical galaxy at z = 0.1415, which when combined with the DM places it above the 3σ scatter of the Macquart relation. We attribute the excess DM to the host galaxy after accounting for contributions from the Milky Way’s interstellar medium and halo, and the combined effects of the intergalactic medium and intervening galaxies. This is the first FRB that is not associated with a dwarf galaxy to exhibit a likely large host galaxy DM contribution. We do not detect any continuum radio emission at the FRB position or from the host galaxy down to a 3σ rms of 14.4 $\mu$Jy beam−1. The FRB has a scattering delay of $29.4^{+2.8}_{-2.7}$ ms at 1 GHz, and exhibits candidate subpulses in the spectrum, which hint at the possibility of it being a repeating FRB. Although not constraining, we note that this FRB has not been seen to repeat in 7.28 h at 1.3 GHz with MeerKAT, 3 h at 2.4 GHz with Murriyang, and 5.7 h at simultaneous 2.3 GHz and 8.4 GHz observations with the Deep Space Network. We encourage further follow-up to establish a possible repeating nature.

     
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  3. ABSTRACT

    Galactic plane radio surveys play a key role in improving our understanding of a wide range of astrophysical phenomena. Performing such a survey using the latest interferometric telescopes produces large data rates necessitating a shift towards fully or quasi-real-time data analysis with data being stored for only the time required to process them. We present here the overview and set-up for the 3000-h Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie (MPIfR)–MeerKAT Galactic Plane Survey (MMGPS). The survey is unique by operating in a commensal mode, addressing key science objectives of the survey including the discovery of new pulsars and transients and studies of Galactic magnetism, the interstellar medium and star formation rates. We explain the strategy coupled with the necessary hardware and software infrastructure needed for data reduction in the imaging, spectral, and time domains. We have so far discovered 78 new pulsars including 17 confirmed binary systems of which two are potential double neutron star systems. We have also developed an imaging pipeline sensitive to the order of a few tens of micro-Jansky ($\mu{\rm Jy}$) with a spatial resolution of a few arcseconds. Further science operations with an in-house built S-band receiver operating between 1.7 and 3.5 GHz are about to commence. Early spectral line commissioning observations conducted at S-band, targeting transitions of the key molecular gas tracer CH at 3.3 GHz already illustrate the spectroscopic capabilities of this instrument. These results lay a strong foundation for future surveys with telescopes like the Square Kilometre Array (SKA).

     
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  4. ABSTRACT

    The most massive globular cluster in our Galaxy, Omega Centauri, is an interesting target for pulsar searches, because of its multiple stellar populations and the intriguing possibility that it was once the nucleus of a galaxy that was absorbed into the Milky Way. The recent discoveries of pulsars in this globular cluster and their association with known X-ray sources was a hint that, given the large number of known X-ray sources, there is a much larger undiscovered pulsar population. We used the superior sensitivity of the MeerKAT radio telescope to search for pulsars in Omega Centauri. In this paper, we present some of the first results of this survey, including the discovery of 13 new pulsars; the total number of known pulsars in this cluster currently stands at 18. At least half of them are in binary systems and preliminary orbital constraints suggest that most of the binaries have light companions. We also discuss the ratio between isolated and binaries pulsars, and how they were formed in this cluster.

     
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  5. ABSTRACT

    We report on the discovery and localization of fast radio bursts (FRBs) from the MeerTRAP project, a commensal fast radio transient-detection programme at MeerKAT in South Africa. Our hybrid approach combines a coherent search with an average field-of-view (FoV) of 0.4 $\rm deg^{2}$ with an incoherent search utilizing a FoV of ∼1.27 $\rm deg^{2}$ (both at 1284 MHz). Here, we present results on the first three FRBs: FRB 20200413A (DM = 1990.05 pc cm−3), FRB 20200915A (DM = 740.65 pc cm−3), and FRB 20201123A (DM = 433.55 pc cm−3). FRB 20200413A was discovered only in the incoherent beam. FRB 20200915A (also discovered only in the incoherent beam) shows speckled emission in the dynamic spectrum, which cannot be explained by interstellar scintillation in our Galaxy or plasma lensing, and might be intrinsic to the source. FRB 20201123A shows a faint post-cursor burst of about 200 ms after the main burst and warrants further follow-up to confirm whether it is a repeating FRB. FRB 20201123A also exhibits significant temporal broadening, consistent with scattering, by a turbulent medium. The broadening exceeds from what is predicted for the medium along the sightline through our Galaxy. We associate this scattering with the turbulent medium in the environment of the FRB in the host galaxy. Within the approximately 1 arcmin localization region of FRB 20201123A, we identify one luminous galaxy (r ≈ 15.67; J173438.35-504550.4) that dominates the posterior probability for a host association. The galaxy’s measured properties are consistent with other FRB hosts with secure associations.

     
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  6. ABSTRACT

    More than 100 millisecond pulsars (MSPs) have been discovered in radio observations of gamma-ray sources detected by the Fermi Large Area Telescope (LAT), but hundreds of pulsar-like sources remain unidentified. Here, we present the first results from the targeted survey of Fermi-LAT sources being performed by the Transients and Pulsars with MeerKAT (TRAPUM) Large Survey Project. We observed 79 sources identified as possible gamma-ray pulsar candidates by a Random Forest classification of unassociated sources from the 4FGL catalogue. Each source was observed for 10 min on two separate epochs using MeerKAT’s L-band receiver (856–1712 MHz), with typical pulsed flux density sensitivities of $\sim 100\, \mu$Jy. Nine new MSPs were discovered, eight of which are in binary systems, including two eclipsing redbacks and one system, PSR J1526−2744, that appears to have a white dwarf companion in an unusually compact 5 h orbit. We obtained phase-connected timing solutions for two of these MSPs, enabling the detection of gamma-ray pulsations in the Fermi-LAT data. A follow-up search for continuous gravitational waves from PSR J1526−2744 in Advanced LIGO data using the resulting Fermi-LAT timing ephemeris yielded no detection, but sets an upper limit on the neutron star ellipticity of 2.45 × 10−8. We also detected X-ray emission from the redback PSR J1803−6707 in data from the first eROSITA all-sky survey, likely due to emission from an intrabinary shock.

     
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  7. ABSTRACT

    Using the MeerKAT radio telescope, a series of observations have been conducted to time the known pulsars and search for new pulsars in the globular cluster NGC 6440. As a result, two pulsars have been discovered, NGC 6440G and NGC 6440H, one of which is isolated and the other a non-eclipsing (at frequencies above 962 MHz) ‘Black Widow’, with a very low mass companion (Mc > 0.006 M⊙). It joins the other binary pulsars discovered so far in this cluster that all have low companion masses (Mc < 0.30 M⊙). We present the results of long-term timing solutions obtained using data from both Green Bank and MeerKAT telescopes for these two new pulsars and an analysis of the pulsars NGC 6440C and NGC 6440D. For the isolated pulsar NGC 6440C, we searched for planets using a Markov chain Monte Carlo technique. We find evidence for significant unmodelled variations but they cannot be well modelled as planets nor as part of a power-law red-noise process. Studies of the eclipses of the ‘Redback’ pulsar NGC 6440D at two different frequency bands reveal a frequency dependence with longer and asymmetric eclipses at lower frequencies (962–1283 MHz).

     
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