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  1. ABSTRACT

    Observations of pulsar scintillation are among the few astrophysical probes of very small-scale (≲ au) phenomena in the interstellar medium (ISM). In particular, characterization of scintillation arcs, including their curvature and intensity distributions, can be related to interstellar turbulence and potentially overpressurized plasma in local ISM inhomogeneities, such as supernova remnants, H ii regions, and bow shocks. Here we present a survey of eight pulsars conducted at the Five-hundred-metre Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST), revealing a diverse range of scintillation arc characteristics at high sensitivity. These observations reveal more arcs than measured previously for our sample. At least nine arcs are observed toward B1929+10 at screen distances spanning $\sim 90~{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$ of the pulsar’s 361 pc path length to the observer. Four arcs are observed toward B0355+54, with one arc yielding a screen distance as close as ∼105 au (<1 pc) from either the pulsar or the observer. Several pulsars show highly truncated, low-curvature arcs that may be attributable to scattering near the pulsar. The scattering screen constraints are synthesized with continuum maps of the local ISM and other well-characterized pulsar scintillation arcs, yielding a three-dimensional view of the scattering media in context.

     
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  2. ABSTRACT

    Fast radio bursts (FRBs) are millisecond-time-scale radio transients, the origins of which are predominantly extragalactic and likely involve highly magnetized compact objects. FRBs undergo multipath propagation, or scattering, from electron density fluctuations on sub-parsec scales in ionized gas along the line of sight. Scattering observations have located plasma structures within FRB host galaxies, probed Galactic and extragalactic turbulence, and constrained FRB redshifts. Scattering also inhibits FRB detection and biases the observed FRB population. We report the detection of scattering times from the repeating FRB 20190520B that vary by up to a factor of 2 or more on minutes to days-long time-scales. In one notable case, the scattering time varied from 7.9 ± 0.4 ms to less than 3.1 ms ($95{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$ confidence) over 2.9 min at 1.45 GHz. The scattering times appear to be uncorrelated between bursts or with dispersion and rotation measure variations. Scattering variations are attributable to dynamic, inhomogeneous plasma in the circumsource medium, and analogous variations have been observed from the Crab pulsar. Under such circumstances, the frequency dependence of scattering can deviate from the typical power law used to measure scattering. Similar variations may therefore be detectable from other FRBs, even those with inconspicuous scattering, providing a unique probe of small-scale processes within FRB environments.

     
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  3. Abstract

    Radio wave scattering can cause severe reductions in detection sensitivity for surveys of Galactic and extragalactic fast (∼ms duration) transients. While Galactic sources like pulsars undergo scattering in the Milky Way interstellar medium (ISM), extragalactic fast radio bursts (FRBs) can also experience scattering in their host galaxies and other galaxies intervening in their lines of sight. We assess Galactic and extragalactic scattering horizons for fast radio transients using a combination of NE2001 to model the dispersion measure and scattering time (τ) contributed by the Galactic disk, and independently constructed electron density models for the Galactic halo and other galaxies’ ISMs and halos that account for different galaxy morphologies, masses, densities, and strengths of turbulence. For source redshifts 0.5 ≤zs≤ 1, an all-sky, isotropic FRB population has simulated values ofτ(1 GHz) ranging from ∼1μs to ∼2 ms (90% confidence, observer frame) that are dominated by host galaxies, althoughτcan be ≫2 ms at low Galactic latitudes. A population atzs= 5 has 0.01 ≲τ≲ 300 ms at 1 GHz (90% confidence), dominated by intervening galaxies. About 20% of these high-redshift FRBs are predicted to haveτ> 5 ms at 1 GHz (observer frame), and ≳40% of FRBs betweenzs∼ 0.5–5 haveτ≳ 1 ms forν≤ 800 MHz. Our scattering predictions may be conservative if scattering from circumsource environments is significant, which is possible under specific conditions. The percentage of FRBs selected against from scattering could also be substantially larger than we predict if circumgalactic turbulence causes more small-scale (≪1 au) density fluctuations than observed from nearby halos.

     
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  4. Abstract

    A sample of 14 FRBs with measured redshifts and scattering times is used to assess contributions to dispersion and scattering from the intergalactic medium (IGM), galaxy halos, and the disks of host galaxies. The IGM and galaxy halos contribute significantly to dispersion measures (DMs) but evidently not to scattering, which is then dominated by host galaxies. This enables the usage of scattering times for estimating DM contributions from host galaxies and also for a combined scattering–dispersion redshift estimator. Redshift estimation is calibrated using the scattering of Galactic pulsars after taking into account different scattering geometries for Galactic and intergalactic lines of sight. The DM-only estimator has a bias of ∼0.1 and rms error of ∼0.15 in the redshift estimate for an assumed ad hoc value of 50 pc cm−3for the host galaxy’s DM contribution. The combined redshift estimator shows less bias by a factor of 4 to 10 and a 20%–40% smaller rms error. We find that values for the baryonic fraction of the ionized IGMfigm≃ 0.85 ± 0.05 optimize redshift estimation using dispersion and scattering. Our study suggests that 2 of the 14 candidate galaxy associations (FRB 20190523A and FRB 20190611B) should be reconsidered.

     
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  5. Abstract

    We analyze the slow periodicities identified in burst sequences from FRB 121102 and FRB 180916 with periods of about 16 and 160 days, respectively, while also addressing the absence of any fast periodicity that might be associated with the spin of an underlying compact object. Both phenomena can be accounted for by a young, highly magnetized, precessing neutron star that emits beamed radiation with significant imposed phase jitter. Sporadic narrow-beam emission into an overall wide solid angle can account for the necessary phase jitter, but the slow periodicities with 25%–55% duty cycles constrain beam traversals to be significantly smaller. Instead, phase jitter may result from variable emission altitudes that yield large retardation and aberration delays. A detailed arrival time analysis for triaxial precession includes wobble of the radio beam and the likely larger, cyclical torque resulting from the changes in the spin–magnetic moment angle. These effects will confound identification of the fast periodicity in sparse data sets longer than about a quarter of a precession cycle unless fitted for and removed as with orbital fitting. Stochastic spin noise, likely to be much larger than in radio pulsars, may hinder detection of any fast periodicity in data spans longer than a few days. These decoherence effects will dissipate as sources of fast radio bursts age, so they may evolve into objects with properties similar to Galactic magnetars.

     
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  6. Abstract Stellar bow shocks are observed in a variety of interstellar environments and shaped by the conditions of gas in the interstellar medium (ISM). In situ measurements of turbulent density fluctuations near stellar bow shocks are only achievable with a few observational probes, including H α -emitting bow shocks and the Voyager Interstellar Mission (VIM). In this paper, we examine density variations around the Guitar Nebula, an H α bow shock associated with PSR B2224+65, in tandem with density variations probed by VIM near the boundary of the solar wind and ISM. High-resolution Hubble Space Telescope observations of the Guitar Nebula taken between 1994 and 2006 trace density variations over scales from hundreds to thousands of au, while VIM density measurements made with the Voyager 1 Plasma Wave System constrain variations from thousands of meters to tens of au. The power spectrum of density fluctuations constrains the amplitude of the turbulence wavenumber spectrum near the Guitar Nebula to log 10 C n 2 = − 0.8 ± 0.2 m −20/3 and for the very local ISM probed by Voyager to log 10 C n 2 = − 1.57 ± 0.02 m −20/3 . Spectral amplitudes obtained from multiepoch observations of four other H α bow shocks also show significant enhancements from values that are considered typical for the diffuse, warm ionized medium, suggesting that density fluctuations near these bow shocks may be amplified by shock interactions with the surrounding medium or selection effects that favor H α emission from bow shocks embedded in denser media. 
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  7. Abstract

    The Galactic Center (GC), with its high density of massive stars, is a promising target for radio transient searches. In particular, the discovery and timing of a pulsar orbiting the central supermassive black hole (SMBH) of our galaxy will enable stringent strong-field tests of gravity and accurate measurements of SMBH properties. We performed multiepoch 4–8 GHz observations of the inner ≈15 pc of our galaxy using the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope in 2019 August–September. Our investigations constitute the most sensitive 4–8 GHz GC pulsar survey conducted to date, reaching down to a 6.1 GHz pseudo-luminosity threshold of ≈1 mJy kpc2for a pulse duty cycle of 2.5%. We searched our data in the Fourier domain for periodic signals incorporating a constant or linearly changing line-of-sight pulsar acceleration. We report the successful detection of the GC magnetar PSR J1745−2900 in our data. Our pulsar searches yielded a nondetection of novel periodic astrophysical emissions above a 6σdetection threshold in harmonic-summed power spectra. We reconcile our nondetection of GC pulsars with inadequate sensitivity to a likely GC pulsar population dominated by millisecond pulsars. Alternatively, close encounters with compact objects in the dense GC environment may scatter pulsars away from the GC. The dense central interstellar medium may also favorably produce magnetars over pulsars.

     
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  8. Abstract

    The repeating fast radio burst FRB 20190520B is localized to a galaxy atz= 0.241, much closer than expected given its dispersion measure DM = 1205 ± 4 pc cm−3. Here we assess implications of the large DM and scattering observed from FRB 20190520B for the host galaxy’s plasma properties. A sample of 75 bursts detected with the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope shows scattering on two scales: a mean temporal delayτ(1.41 GHz) = 10.9 ± 1.5 ms, which is attributed to the host galaxy, and a mean scintillation bandwidth Δνd(1.41 GHz) = 0.21 ± 0.01 MHz, which is attributed to the Milky Way. Balmer line measurements for the host imply an Hαemission measure (galaxy frame) EMs= 620 pc cm−6× (T/104K)0.9, implying DMHαof order the value inferred from the FRB DM budget,DMh=1121138+89pc cm−3for plasma temperatures greater than the typical value 104K. Combiningτand DMhyields a nominal constraint on the scattering amplification from the host galaxyF˜G=1.50.3+0.8(pc2km)1/3, whereF˜describes turbulent density fluctuations andGrepresents the geometric leverage to scattering that depends on the location of the scattering material. For a two-screen scattering geometry whereτarises from the host galaxy and Δνdfrom the Milky Way, the implied distance between the FRB source and dominant scattering material is ≲100 pc. The host galaxy scattering and DM contributions support a novel technique for estimating FRB redshifts using theτ–DM relation, and are consistent with previous findings that scattering of localized FRBs is largely dominated by plasma within host galaxies and the Milky Way.

     
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