Shriharsh Tendulkar (McGill): Probing the Fast Radio Burst Population(s?) with CHIME

Seminar | July 24 | 3:10-4 p.m. | 501B Campbell Hall

 Shriharsh Tendulkar, McGill Space Institute

 Radio Astronomy Lab

Fast radio bursts (FRBs) are the newest mysteries of radio astronomy. A decade after their discovery, we still understand little about their origins, their environments and the diversity of their properties. Only one FRB source, out of two dozen known FRBs to date, has been observed to burst repeatedly. It is currently not clear whether FRBs consist of two distinct populations — single events and repeaters --- or whether there is a broad continuum of repetition rates and behaviors. To complicate matters further, pulse-propagation effects (e.g. latitude-dependent scintillation in the Milky Way) can change the detectable repetition rates. The observed polarization and scattering properties of FRBs are similarly diverse.

Our current, major challenge is to make accurate inferences on the FRB population based on discoveries made by multiple telescopes and search pipelines, each with a range of selection effects. In this talk, I will describe how we will generate a large, homogenous sample of FRBs with well-understood selection effects and full-polarization information using the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) telescope, a low-frequency (400-800 MHz) transit telescope that will survey the full Northern sky once a day for 5 years. Current rates predict that CHIME will detect 1-10 FRBs per day, doubling the observed FRB population within weeks of operation. I will discuss our work in designing and building the FRB backend for CHIME, as well as plans for the upcoming year.