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  1. 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 dynamicmore »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.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 16, 2023
  2. Context. The PSR J2222−0137 binary system has a set of features that make it a unique laboratory for tests of gravity theories. Aims. To fully exploit the system’s potential for these tests, we aim to improve the measurements of its physical parameters, spin and orbital orientation, and post-Keplerian parameters, which quantify the observed relativistic effects. Methods. We describe an improved analysis of archival very long baseline interferometry (VLBI) data, which uses a coordinate convention in full agreement with that used in timing. We have also obtained much improved polarimetry of the pulsar with the Five hundred meter Aperture Spherical Telescopemore »(FAST). We provide an improved analysis of significantly extended timing datasets taken with the Effelsberg, Nançay, and Lovell radio telescopes; this also includes previous timing data from the Green Bank Telescope. Results. From the VLBI analysis, we have obtained a new estimate of the position angle of the ascending node, Ω = 189 −18 +19 deg (all uncertainties are 68% confidence limits), and a new reference position for the pulsar with an improved and more conservative uncertainty estimate. The FAST polarimetric results, and in particular the detection of an interpulse, yield much improved estimates for the spin geometry of the pulsar, in particular an inclination of the spin axis of the pulsar of ∼84 deg. From the timing, we obtain a new ∼1% test of general relativity (GR) from the agreement of the Shapiro delay parameters and the rate of advance of periastron. Assuming GR in a self-consistent analysis of all effects, we obtain much improved masses: 1.831(10)  M ⊙ for the pulsar and 1.319(4)  M ⊙ for the white dwarf companion; the total mass, 3.150(14)  M ⊙ , confirms this as the most massive double degenerate binary known in the Galaxy. This analysis also yields the orbital orientation; in particular, the orbital inclination is 85.27(4) deg – indicating a close alignment between the spin of the pulsar and the orbital angular momentum – and Ω = 187.7(5.7) deg, which matches our new VLBI estimate. Finally, the timing also yields a precise measurement of the variation in the orbital period, Ṗ b = 0.251(8) × 10 −12 ss −1 ; this is consistent with the expected variation in the Doppler factor plus the orbital decay caused by the emission of gravitational waves predicted by GR. This agreement introduces stringent constraints on the emission of dipolar gravitational waves.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 1, 2022
  3. ABSTRACT We report observed and derived timing parameters for three millisecond pulsars (MSPs) from observations collected with the Parkes 64-m telescope, Murriyang. The pulsars were found during reprocessing of archival survey data by Mickaliger et al. One of the new pulsars (PSR J1546–5925) has a spin period P = 7.8 ms and is isolated. The other two (PSR J0921–5202 with P = 9.7 ms and PSR J1146–6610 with P = 3.7 ms) are in binary systems around low-mass (${\gt}0.2\, {\rm M}_{\odot }$) companions. Their respective orbital periods are 38.2 and 62.8 d. While PSR J0921–5202 has a low orbital eccentricity e = 1.3 × 10−5, in keeping with many other Galacticmore »MSPs, PSR J1146–6610 has a significantly larger eccentricity, e = 7.4 × 10−3. This makes it a likely member of a group of eccentric MSP–helium white dwarf binary systems in the Galactic disc whose formation is poorly understood. Two of the pulsars are co-located with previously unidentified point sources discovered with the Fermi satellite’s Large Area Telescope, but no γ-ray pulsations have been detected, likely due to their low spin-down powers. We also show that, particularly in terms of orbital diversity, the current sample of MSPs is far from complete and is subject to a number of selection biases.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 15, 2022
  4. Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2022
  5. Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 14, 2022
  6. ABSTRACT We searched for an isotropic stochastic gravitational wave background in the second data release of the International Pulsar Timing Array, a global collaboration synthesizing decadal-length pulsar-timing campaigns in North America, Europe, and Australia. In our reference search for a power-law strain spectrum of the form $h_c = A(f/1\, \mathrm{yr}^{-1})^{\alpha }$, we found strong evidence for a spectrally similar low-frequency stochastic process of amplitude $A = 3.8^{+6.3}_{-2.5}\times 10^{-15}$ and spectral index α = −0.5 ± 0.5, where the uncertainties represent 95 per cent credible regions, using information from the auto- and cross-correlation terms between the pulsars in the array. For a spectral index of α =more »−2/3, as expected from a population of inspiralling supermassive black hole binaries, the recovered amplitude is $A = 2.8^{+1.2}_{-0.8}\times 10^{-15}$. None the less, no significant evidence of the Hellings–Downs correlations that would indicate a gravitational-wave origin was found. We also analysed the constituent data from the individual pulsar timing arrays in a consistent way, and clearly demonstrate that the combined international data set is more sensitive. Furthermore, we demonstrate that this combined data set produces comparable constraints to recent single-array data sets which have more data than the constituent parts of the combination. Future international data releases will deliver increased sensitivity to gravitational wave radiation, and significantly increase the detection probability.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 19, 2023
  7. In April 2019, the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) collaboration revealed the first image of the candidate super- massive black hole (SMBH) at the centre of the giant elliptical galaxy Messier 87 (M87). This event-horizon-scale image shows a ring of glowing plasma with a dark patch at the centre, which is interpreted as the shadow of the black hole. This breakthrough result, which represents a powerful confirmation of Einstein’s theory of gravity, or general relativity, was made possible by assembling a global network of radio telescopes operating at millimetre wavelengths that for the first time included the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Arraymore »(ALMA). The addition of ALMA as an anchor station has enabled a giant leap forward by increasing the sensitivity limits of the EHT by an order of magnitude, effectively turning it into an imaging array. The published image demonstrates that it is now possible to directly study the event horizon shadows of SMBHs via electromagnetic radiation, thereby transforming this elusive frontier from a mathematical concept into an astrophysical reality. The expansion of the array over the next few years will include new stations on different continents — and eventually satellites in space. This will provide progressively sharper and higher-fidelity images of SMBH candidates, and potentially even movies of the hot plasma orbiting around SMBHs. These improvements will shed light on the processes of black hole accretion and jet formation on event-horizon scales, thereby enabling more precise tests of general relativity in the truly strong field regime.« less