Casey Law (Berkeley): The First Precision Localization of a Fast Radio Burst

Seminar | January 23 | 3:10-4 p.m. | 131 Campbell Hall

 Casey Law, UC Berkeley

 Radio Astronomy Lab

Nearly ten years have passed since the discovery of a milisecond radio transient with anomalously high dispersion (the "Lorimer burst"). The naive interpretation of that burst argued for new class of object at cosmological distance with a luminosity far greater than any other radio transient. Since that time, another 20 of these "fast radio bursts" (FRBs) have been detected at telescopes around the world. Models of FRB origin range from cosmic strings to Galactic stars to microwave ovens in Australia. The single-dish telescopes that discovered FRBs could not localize bursts well enough on the sky to identify multiwavelength counterparts that could distinguish between these models and firmly establish their cosmic origin. In this talk, I will present the first precision localization of an FRB via millisecond radio imaging with the Very Large Array. We have localized the repeating FRB 121102 with a precision of 0.1", fine enough to uniquely associate it with a dwarf galaxy at a redshift of 0.1927. I will discuss the technical challenges this effort, what we've learned from the repeating FRB, and plans for finding more FRB hosts.