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  1. ABSTRACT We present a low-frequency (170–200 MHz) search for prompt radio emission associated with the long GRB 210419A using the rapid-response mode of the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA), triggering observations with the Voltage Capture System for the first time. The MWA began observing GRB 210419A within 89 s of its detection by Swift, enabling us to capture any dispersion delayed signal emitted by this gamma-ray burst (GRB) for a typical range of redshifts. We conducted a standard single pulse search with a temporal and spectral resolution of $100\, \mu$s and 10 kHz over a broad range of dispersion measures from 1 to $5000\, \text{pc}\, \text{cm}^{-3}$, but none were detected. However, fluence upper limits of 77–224 Jy ms derived over a pulse width of 0.5–10 ms and a redshift of 0.6 < z < 4 are some of the most stringent at low radio frequencies. We compared these fluence limits to the GRB jet–interstellar medium interaction model, placing constraints on the fraction of magnetic energy (ϵB ≲ [0.05–0.1]). We also searched for signals during the X-ray flaring activity of GRB 210419A on minute time-scales in the image domain and found no emission, resulting in an intensity upper limit of $0.57\, \text{Jy}\, \text{beam}^{-1}$, corresponding to a constraint ofmore »ϵB ≲ 10−3. Our non-detection could imply that GRB 210419A was at a high redshift, there was not enough magnetic energy for low-frequency emission, or the radio waves did not escape from the GRB environment.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 21, 2023
  2. Abstract Many short gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) originate from binary neutron star mergers, and there are several theories that predict the production of coherent, prompt radio signals either prior, during, or shortly following the merger, as well as persistent pulsar-like emission from the spin-down of a magnetar remnant. Here we present a low frequency (170–200 MHz) search for coherent radio emission associated with nine short GRBs detected by the Swift and/or Fermi satellites using the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) rapid-response observing mode. The MWA began observing these events within 30–60 s of their high-energy detection, enabling us to capture any dispersion delayed signals emitted by short GRBs for a typical range of redshifts. We conducted transient searches at the GRB positions on timescales of 5 s, 30 s, and 2 min, resulting in the most constraining flux density limits on any associated transient of 0.42, 0.29, and 0.084 Jy, respectively. We also searched for dispersed signals at a temporal and spectral resolution of 0.5 s and 1.28 MHz, but none were detected. However, the fluence limit of 80–100 Jy ms derived for GRB 190627A is the most stringent to date for a short GRB. Assuming the formation of a stable magnetarmore »for this GRB, we compared the fluence and persistent emission limits to short GRB coherent emission models, placing constraints on key parameters including the radio emission efficiency of the nearly merged neutron stars ( $\epsilon_r\lesssim10^{-4}$ ), the fraction of magnetic energy in the GRB jet ( $\epsilon_B\lesssim2\times10^{-4}$ ), and the radio emission efficiency of the magnetar remnant ( $\epsilon_r\lesssim10^{-3}$ ). Comparing the limits derived for our full GRB sample (along with those in the literature) to the same emission models, we demonstrate that our fluence limits only place weak constraints on the prompt emission predicted from the interaction between the relativistic GRB jet and the interstellar medium for a subset of magnetar parameters. However, the 30-min flux density limits were sensitive enough to theoretically detect the persistent radio emission from magnetar remnants up to a redshift of $z\sim0.6$ . Our non-detection of this emission could imply that some GRBs in the sample were not genuinely short or did not result from a binary neutron star merger, the GRBs were at high redshifts, these mergers formed atypical magnetars, the radiation beams of the magnetar remnants were pointing away from Earth, or the majority did not form magnetars but rather collapse directly into black holes.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2023
  3. Abstract We present a broadband radio study of the transient jets ejected from the black hole candidate X-ray binary MAXI J1535–571, which underwent a prolonged outburst beginning on 2017 September 2. We monitored MAXI J1535–571 with the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) at frequencies from 119 to 186 MHz over six epochs from 2017 September 20 to 2017 October 14. The source was quasi-simultaneously observed over the frequency range 0.84–19 GHz by UTMOST (the Upgraded Molonglo Observatory Synthesis Telescope) the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP), the Australia Telescope Compact Array (ATCA), and the Australian Long Baseline Array (LBA). Using the LBA observations from 2017 September 23, we measured the source size to be $34\pm1$ mas. During the brightest radio flare on 2017 September 21, the source was detected down to 119 MHz by the MWA, and the radio spectrum indicates a turnover between 250 and 500 MHz, which is most likely due to synchrotron self-absorption (SSA). By fitting the radio spectrum with a SSA model and using the LBA size measurement, we determined various physical parameters of the jet knot (identified in ATCA data), including the jet opening angle ( $\phi_{\rm op} = 4.5\pm1.2^{\circ}$ ) and the magnetic field strengthmore »( $B_{\rm s} = 104^{+80}_{-78}$ mG). Our fitted magnetic field strength agrees reasonably well with that inferred from the standard equipartition approach, suggesting the jet knot to be close to equipartition. Our study highlights the capabilities of the Australian suite of radio telescopes to jointly probe radio jets in black hole X-ray binaries via simultaneous observations over a broad frequency range, and with differing angular resolutions. This suite allows us to determine the physical properties of X-ray binary jets. Finally, our study emphasises the potential contributions that can be made by the low-frequency part of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA-Low) in the study of black hole X-ray binaries.« less
  4. Abstract The Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) is an electronically steered low-frequency (<300 MHz) radio interferometer, with a ‘slew’ time less than 8 s. Low-frequency (∼100 MHz) radio telescopes are ideally suited for rapid response follow-up of transients due to their large field of view, the inverted spectrum of coherent emission, and the fact that the dispersion delay between a 1 GHz and 100 MHz pulse is on the order of 1–10 min for dispersion measures of 100–2000 pc/cm 3 . The MWA has previously been used to provide fast follow-up for transient events including gamma-ray bursts (GRBs), fast radio bursts (FRBs), and gravitational waves, using systems that respond to gamma-ray coordinates network packet-based notifications. We describe a system for automatically triggering MWA observations of such events, based on Virtual Observatory Event standard triggers, which is more flexible, capable, and accurate than previous systems. The system can respond to external multi-messenger triggers, which makes it well-suited to searching for prompt coherent radio emission from GRBs, the study of FRBs and gravitational waves, single pulse studies of pulsars, and rapid follow-up of high-energy superflares from flare stars. The new triggering system has the capability to trigger observations in both the regular correlatormore »mode (limited to ≥0.5 s integrations) and using the Voltage Capture System (VCS, 0.1 ms integration) of the MWA and represents a new mode of operation for the MWA. The upgraded standard correlator triggering capability has been in use since MWA observing semester 2018B (July–Dec 2018), and the VCS and buffered mode triggers will become available for observing in a future semester.« less
  5. Abstract The Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) is an open access telescope dedicated to studying the low-frequency (80–300 MHz) southern sky. Since beginning operations in mid-2013, the MWA has opened a new observational window in the southern hemisphere enabling many science areas. The driving science objectives of the original design were to observe 21 cm radiation from the Epoch of Reionisation (EoR), explore the radio time domain, perform Galactic and extragalactic surveys, and monitor solar, heliospheric, and ionospheric phenomena. All together $60+$ programs recorded 20 000 h producing 146 papers to date. In 2016, the telescope underwent a major upgrade resulting in alternating compact and extended configurations. Other upgrades, including digital back-ends and a rapid-response triggering system, have been developed since the original array was commissioned. In this paper, we review the major results from the prior operation of the MWA and then discuss the new science paths enabled by the improved capabilities. We group these science opportunities by the four original science themes but also include ideas for directions outside these categories.