UR: Quick – LOOK: Pulsar data! | astrobites
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Katherine Zine / Blaise Veras
Indiana University Bloomington / Gettysburg College
Katherine worked on this research during the 2021 Astrophysics REU at the Center for Gravitational Waves and Cosmology at the University of West Virginia. Her advisor was Dr Maura McLaughlin and she is a rising senior astronomy and physics student at Indiana University at Bloomington. Katherine loves to read and is considering pursuing graduate studies in astronomy.
Blaise is a final year student studying physics at Gettysburg College. He conducted this research as part of the 2021 REU Astrophysics Program at the Center for Gravitational Waves and Cosmology at the University of West Virginia, under the direction of Dr Maura McLaughlin. In his spare time, Blaise enjoys playing niche sports, making music, and reading non-fiction.
The North American Nanohertz Observatory for Gravitational Waves (NANOGrav) is a collaboration of astronomers from across North America that uses pulsars to attempt to detect gravitational waves, which are ripples in space-time. produced by the acceleration of massive objects. Pulsars are rapidly spinning, highly magnetized neutron stars that emit radio beams from their magnetic poles that pass through our field of view like a beacon as the star rotates. This rotation is very periodic, so we can calculate exactly when the next impulse will occur. NANOGrav “watches” the pulsars, or calculates the arrival time of their pulsations. If a gravitational wave passes, we will detect it at the arrival times because the pulse signal will arrive at a slightly different time than expected. To look for any interesting changes in the pulsar observations, software called Quicklook, in the form of a Jupyter Notebook, quickly generates various graphs of the different properties of the pulsar. Our project aimed to add two new graphs that examine additional properties: the measure of dispersion (DM), which is the integrated column density of electrons between us and the pulsar, and the changes in intensity of the profile of the pulsar, which traces the energy of the pulsar. pulsar beam on its rotation.
We added some Python code to the Quicklook notebook to create our charts. The first graph we added showed the profile residuals (example shown in Figure 1), which are the differences between the observation profile and the average model for this pulsar. The second plot (example shown in Figure 2) uses the arrival times of the pulses, calculates their MD, then graphs the difference between the measured MD and the average, called DMX, as well as the historical values. We used the NANOGrav data for pulsars J2145-0750 and J1613-1224 as a test case for our code. The new graphics make it easier to visualize interesting variations in profiles or MDs and allow tracking. Future work could include automating the operation of the Quicklook notebook and, since the data we used was only obtained by the Green Bank telescope, making it work with other telescopes as well.
Astrobite edited by: Haley wahl
Featured Image Credit: Katherine Zine, Blaise Veras