Publications by Christopher Williams

SETIBURST: A robotic, commensal, realtime multi-science backend for the Arecibo Telescope

Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series Institute of Physics 228 (2017) 21-21

J Chennamangalam, D MacMahon, J Cobb, A Karastergiou, APV Siemion, K Rajwade, W Armour, V Gajjar, MA McLaughlin, D Werthimer, C Williams

Radio astronomy has traditionally depended on observatories allocating time to observers for exclusive use of their telescopes. The disadvantage of this scheme is that the data thus collected is rarely used for other astronomy applications, and in many cases, is unsuitable. For example, properly calibrated pulsar search data can, with some reduction, be used for spectral line surveys. A backend that supports plugging in multiple applications to a telescope to perform commensal data analysis will vastly increase the science throughput of the facility. In this paper, we present "SETIBURST," a robotic, commensal, realtime multi-science backend for the 305 m Arecibo Telescope. The system uses the 1.4 GHz, seven-beam Arecibo L-band Feed Array (ALFA) receiver whenever it is operated. SETIBURST currently supports two applications: SERENDIP VI, a SETI spectrometer that is conducting a search for signs of technological life, and ALFABURST, a fast transient search system that is conducting a survey of fast radio bursts (FRBs). Based on the FRB event rate and the expected usage of ALFA, we expect 0-5 FRB detections over the coming year. SETIBURST also provides the option of plugging in more applications. We outline the motivation for our instrumentation scheme and the scientific motivation of the two surveys, along with their descriptions and related discussions.

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